Hi! Sooo, it’s been a little while, right? Life away from my sewing machine took over for a bit (darn!), but there was some sewing, it’s just still a secret… But one such secret gets revealed this week!!!
Today is the start of the Fabri-Quilt New Block blog hop!!! Yvonne is posting today, over at Quilting Jetgirl, and she has a list of others who are posting today (and there’s a giveaway). So, there are 16 tutorials for block designs to look at today. Tomorrow, there will be another 16 featured on Meadow Mist Designs. Wednesday is Late Night Quilter‘s turn (and when my block goes live!), and Childlike Fascination will be posting on Thursday. That means over 60 tutorials for new block designs this week!!!!
Would you like a sneak peek of mine?
Well, this is sort of a sneak peek… Just the pile of trimmings. But you can come back on Wednesday and see the full reveal!
This is possibly my new favorite quilt! There are sunflowers, batiks, yellow, awesome quilting, metallics — what more could a girl want?
It all started with the sunflower print. Surprised? I saw it at Joann’s — yes, Joann’s — and fell in love. After I brought it home, I consulted the stash, and the fabric stores, to find coordinates, found the pattern in Quilty, and got started. The quilt top itself came together very quickly, then languished in a corner for far longer than it deserved.
A few weeks ago, I whipped it out, made a quilt back, and got to work! I scoured the internet for FMQ designs so I could make each block different. Shall we explore some of these?
On that tan print, it’s just a simple loopy meander. I really wanted to use the metallic thread on that print (the circles are slightly metallic), but didn’t want to worry too much about tension. Also, my favorite print of the back is right behind this block, and I didn’t want to quilt too densely. The yellow print is from Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket (love their fabrics!) and is … well, I don’t actually know what it’s called. Maze? Curvy connected matchstick? The orange print (Julianna Horner) and the lower Pearl Bracelet I shared here. The sunflowers are in a great modern leaf design from The Inbox Jaunt.
These were mostly all shared in the last post as well, except that upper left brown batik. That was actually the very last block I did in the entire quilt and I was starting to get a little worn out. So, I chose something very simple — branches from Leah Day. Super, super easy, and it really worked well to highlight the fabric here. I’m not sure it’s a design I will use often, but on semi-organic designs it works really, really well.
On the upper orange print, I tried to do cobblestones from the book Beginner’s Guide to Free-Motion Quilting by Natalia Bonner. Her examples ended up far more rounded and cobblestone-y than mine. Mine looks more like stacked moving boxes… Still fun, and a great texture. The brown sketch print I marked out with painter’s tape every three inches, then just did a figure eight pattern between the tape. Easy, but very striking. The sunflower print has a design I “invented” myself. It was late at night and I wanted something easy, but angular, that wouldn’t detract from the print. At the request of Jenn, I’ll be sharing a tutorial on that soon. The design in the center batik is probably the one I’m most proud of, so of course it’s the hardest to photograph. There are three free handed ovals, with feather frames. Then I echoed inside the ovals with metallic thread. It’s a little easier to see here on the back:
Speaking of the back, I used a few of my favorite fabrics. After all, that’s what the Summer of Sarah Sewing is about. Making quilts for me to enjoy, and what’s more enjoyable than using your favorite fabric?
I’ve been hoarding that bear fabric for what feels like forever, and it was just perfect for this! The yellow roses are leftovers from the back of this quilt (my former favorite quilt), and that brown and orange print near the top was used in this quilt. Not to mention the scraps from making the top that made their way to the back. I do still have all those HST trimmings that will become something…someday…
More of my own triangular design, and dot-to-dot quilting on the Comma print. That was…hmmm, not difficult, but it definitely required concentration. I definitely need more practice to keep the lines straight. Shucks darn, I guess I have to make more quilts.
As you may have noticed, I bound the quilt in the Copper Metallic version of Pearl Bracelets. I bought it specifically to bind this quilt when it came out last year. Unfortunately, I was going to be shy a few inches, so what’s a smart talented quilter to do? Match one corner of the binding to the quilt top, of course!
Recently, I saw Rachel at Like To Sew do a matched binding and I thought it added a lot to the design, so I did it too. Because copying is the sincerest form of flattery, right? That block is quilted in swirls with and without pebbles, and a few leaves thrown in, just because I could. (I’m starting to think that should be my tagline…)
After the last post, my aunt shared that this quilt reminds her of childhood memories with my mother, and in that moment, the name was chosen. See, my mother would play loud, upbeat music whenever we were cleaning, and Play that Funky Music was amongst her favorites. And you know, it kind of fits with the vibe of this quilt. Also, this was the same aunt who sent me the sunflower seeds… so it’s kind of perfect.
That connection to my mother, through this quilt, is what makes it my new favorite. And reminds me why I quilt.
I recently mentioned a not-so-secret quilt to a friend, and it suddenly hit me how many projects I have that are ‘secret’ only because I haven’t shared them! I know there are quilters out there who can work on one project steadily, without breaking up the work flow. I am not one of those such magical creatures. Not even close. So I thought I would share a few quick snippets of what I’m working on these days. Ready?
This is a project that I affectionately refer to as the crazy cat lady quilt. I’ll share more on my thought processes behind it someday, but for now the quick blurb: This floral I’ve had since, ummm, 2012? waiting for the perfect inspiration. In a clean up, the green cat face print from Catnap fell on top of it, and as they say, the rest is history. I’m working on creating several blocks of varying sizes and will eventually join them with some improv/alternate grid work. Lots of black, chartreuse/pickle, and coral. Fun, right?
Since this summer is about sewing for me (remember?), I picked back up my Supernova blocks. Now I just need to keep the momentum going and finish it out!!! Anyone want to take bets on if it’ll happen before 2016? I think this is my most picked up and put back project to date…
I’m also working on a quilt of my own design, with the intent of either selling it, or releasing it as a free tutorial. I don’t want to give too much away, but it uses this charm pack of Persimmon I picked up during a fun day with quilty friends.
The completion of the Farmer’s Wife quilt is still on the agenda, I just have to work through an idea or two. Here’s what I’m leaning towards currently (the strip idea didn’t look great in person; the blocks got washed out).
Last but not least, I’ve been invited to join in the Fabri-Quilts New Block Hop at the end of this month!!! So now I need to design a block…
How many projects do you work on at a time? Are you like me, flitting from project to project? Or more purposed working on one project until completion?
Recently, I started doing precision piecing again (more on that later), and I thought I’d share my method for pressing open seams with you. When I started quilting, the only method I knew to press seams open was the standard hold the fabric open just before you iron it. As you probably know, this results in sore, burnt finger tips, and frustration. Possibly even swearing, but we can pretend that doesn’t happen, right? With a few tools, I’ve figured out a way to press seams open without having my fingers anywhere near the iron!
The tools you need are: fork pins and a brayer (they’re shown above). I wish I could remember who I heard first mention these tools to give them credit, but I’m a little hazy on the details. A brayer is usually used to help with stamping/inking processes, not that I’ve ever done those… But someone, somewhere, at sometime mentioned it was handy for paperpiecing. It works just like a rolling pin (only smaller) to give you a really firm finger press. I could go into all the mechanics behind force and moment arms to explain why the roller can press better than your fingers, but you would probably fall asleep and miss the important part — how not to burn your fingers — so we’ll skip the physics lesson for today. I picked up my brayer at a semi-local quilt store, but you can find them online as well. (Hint: try searching for wooden seam roller if you don’t have any luck with brayer)
Fork pins are just awesome for so many reasons, especially when dealing with open seams. As you can probably tell from the picture, they have two prongs, so they immobilize the pieces/fabric at two points instead of the usual one. Also, they’re thinner than standard straight pins (at least the ones I have), so you can sew really really close. These are made by Clover, and are available online, and possibly your LQS.
Now for the technique! I’m kind of a lazy quilter — see, I don’t like to iron/press at every single step. A.) My cat likes to knock my iron over, so I leave it unplugged as much as possible. Fires are not welcomed. B.) Sewing is supposed to be relaxing, if I’m always getting up and moving around, it’s not as relaxing. The point to this, is with this technique, I only need to press most blocks at the end, when it’s all sewn up. (The example block here was an exception; I did have to press some of the subunits.) When I’m joining two sections, I finger press each seam, and use the fork pins to hold the seams open, and in place aligned together.
See how the seams aren’t open all the way down? The fork pins will hold the seams open where you’re sewing, and the rest can get pressed open later.
Since the fork pins are so small, you can sew much, much closer to them. If you remove the pins (any kind of pins, not just these) too soon, it’s almost like you didn’t pin at all. This particular machine I was sewing on doesn’t fair well if I try to sew over the pins… but if you know your machine is okay with it, you can do that too. Just be careful. Maybe wear safety goggles. Or, do like I do, and just sew right up to the pin, then remove it. That’s the other handy feature of fork pins. Rather than having a standard, hard-to-grab head on the end, the forked part angles upwards, making them very easy to grab.
Once you’re all done sewing up your block, the back will look kind of like this (barring variations in what block you’re sewing of course.) I had already pressed some subunits, so there are a few seams pressed fully open, but you can see the majority of the ‘big’ seams are not open at all.
Start by finger pressing the seams. Run your fingers along each seam, pushing downward, just like if you were creasing paper to make a paper airplane, or wrapping a present. You want to start coercing that seam flat. Because we all know, seams have a mind of their own, and will fight you if given half a chance.
Once you’ve finger pressed the seams, you can roll the brayer over the seams, applying a firm downward pressure. This is just like if you’ve ever rolled out pie dough, just on a smaller, less delicious scale. (Carla jokes that I always make her hungry with my blog posts — Sorry Carla!!!)
Ta-da! This is what those seams will look like after you’re done bray-ing them. (I’m making up words now.) Kind of flat, but still rebellious enough to flip any way they please. So now we bring in the big guns, uhhh, I mean the iron. A little heat will teach them who’s boss!
This is where you want to PRESS, not IRON. Pressing is where you lift the iron straight up and down, ironing you slide back and forth. You do not want to slide the iron at this point. Pressing with the iron will follow with those good intentions you sowed with the finger pressing and brayer rolling. Ironing will mess that all up. So put the iron down on a section, count to three or so (depending on your iron, of course) then lift straight up. Place it down on another section, etc, etc, until all the seams have been pressed. Then you can flip over to the other side, the right side of the block, and iron, if you must. I usually must because then I can admire the pretty block. Admiration is a very important step of the quilting process. It is, just ask my cat. But see how there are no fingers nearby? In fact, I did this one handed (because I only have two, and one was holding the iron, the other the camera). Not a chance in the world of burning fingers!!!
And here is where I would show you the picture I took of the back of the block so you can see how beautifully everything lies open. Except I forgot to take that picture. I was hungry, it was dinnertime, I got wrapped up in the admiration step and forgot to admire with my camera as well. Ooops.
By the power of the internet (and going to take the photo just now), I have a picture for you!
So, what do you think? Did this remove a little of the pain in pressing open seams? Are you now a convert?
Hi! A few days ago, I had this quilt basted and ready to go. Since then, I’ve scoured the internet, and your comments, for new free motion quilting designs to try out. It was a real hardship to look at beautiful quilts, over and over.
Just under half of the quilt is done at this point… hopefully I can come up with enough ideas! Since learning the feather shape I pretty much want to put them everywhere, so I knew there was going to be a feather. I chose this section with the golden honeycomb batik because I thought it would show up best, and because it’s one of my favorite fabrics in the top. So much so, that after I made this top, I went back to the quilt store and bought another yard of it. True love right there.
I’m a big fan of using the fabric design as a guide for the quilting — no marking! On this pearl bracelet section, I did a sort of crop circle thing (not sure what it’s ‘technically’ called). In that orange section (an older Simon + Kabuki print) I did a new-to-me design. I’m not sure of the name, but I keep calling them feathered pebbles. I thought it was pretty easy, but then again, I like feathers, so doing several little ones would be fun for me. And we all know my history with pebbles.
I love watching how these designs show up on the back, some more prominently than others. I used to hate the idea of the thread showing up on the back. Now that I’m more confident in my quilting abilities though, I love that part. It’s kind of like a badge of honor, and way to easily show you what I’ve quilted.
Another new-to-me quilting design: puzzle pieces! They were super fun, even though I had to mark the top. I played it safe and marked with a chalk pencil (I don’t trust those blue ones!) It was a little painful as the chalk wore off, but since it was just a simple grid it wasn’t too bad. The yellow section was done in a sort of column of c’s method. I did them on an angle since the fabric has such a horizontal design, I didn’t want any irregularities in my squiggles to fight with the fabric. The orange up in the corner is a dense woodgrain, which is just super fun, and one of my favorites.
This orange section was done with a wavy cross hatch, again using the fabric as a guide. Easy, but a little tedious. It has a fabulous texture to it though.
I love seeing the different color threads on this print. I was a little nervous using up the last of my scissors on the back of this quilt, but hey, this summer is about sewing for myself. And if I can’t use the good stuff on me, who can I use it on? It really works well with the quilt and the quilting so far, so no regrets!
I did this section in a peapod design, as taught by Christina Camelli. The metallic thread is so hard to capture! It’s a bronze color, and I used a dark brown in the bobbin. It definitely took a little finessing to get the metallic thread to play well with my machine, but it’s worth it. I have plans to use it on a few more sections of this quilt.
This, by far, is my favorite new-to-me technique. Leah Day calls it a pointy paisley, but I think of it as layered triangles. It is very fast (faster than a regular paisley, at least to me) and very, very forgiving. All of those lines going in different ways make your eyes bounce around, disguising any sections that aren’t quite perfect. Definitely a good technique to have in your toolbox.
Here is what the back looks like:
I mentioned above that I don’t trust marking pens… I know this will have to change someday. Do you have any that you love, that work well? I know the blue ones are popular and there’s even a blue marker remover product, but I’m still hesitant. Any wisdom to share?
So since all the Summer of Sarah Sewing projects are for me, I don’t need to keep them a surprise. Which means I get to share progress pictures with you guys! It also means I take waaay to many pictures, but you don’t mind, right?
This is a quilt top I made back in September of 2013, and thank you smart phone for recording that for me. See, that’s before I even had a blog, or a fancy camera. I’m not even sure I was using Instagram yet. I just took pictures on my phone so I’d know how to sew it all together once I picked it up off the floor. Though, that shouldn’t be in past tense — I still do that. The top is a pattern by Jeni Baker from the July/August ’13 issue of Quilty, called All Tied Up. It was pretty easy to put together (though I was terrible at making points match up two years ago), but the fabric requirements listed are very, very generous.
Last week I made a back for this quilt, and accidentally deleted the pictures I took of it. Cue sad music please. You can see the wrong side of the back here, but I’m sure you’re far too distracted by how adorable my helper is. He really does try to help with every step of the process. Quality checks aren’t just for the end product, you know. He has to inspect every step along the way.
I clearly have a thing for sunflowers, wouldn’t you say? I once tried to grow sunflowers as a kid… My aunt had sent me some seeds for Christmas, so I spent days prepping a section of the backyard. I planted the seeds, and watered them semi-faithfully, and waited for them to grow. And waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. It’s now a family joke that I can grow anything, but sunflowers… I still maintain the birds ate the seeds and it had nothing to do with my abilities. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. I still love sunflowers though.
I think there is something wonderfully magical about a completely smooth, basted quilt top. I’m not sure what it is though. Maybe it’s just how much potential it holds, like those sunflower seeds. Thankfully, I don’t think birds are going to eat my quilt, nor does finishing it require on pesky things like weather, or consistent watering. Just some time, a little patience, and a lot of fun.
All ready to quilt! I’ve always intended to do this as a bit of a free motion quilting sampler, but I need help! What are some of your favorite free motion quilting designs?
Do you guys remember that quilt I did, oh 4 months ago? It was for the Bonnie Christine Ribbon Tour. Let’s refresh our memories
I have a confession: it wasn’t done. See, I quilted it for about 3 days straight, 12 hours each day. Some of you might be wincing right now because you know where this story is going. I sprained my wrist from all the free motion quilting. It swelled up, I couldn’t even pick up my coffee cup, let alone keep quilting. But the deadline!!!! Well, my husband had a great idea. The ribbon portion of the quilt was done, it was just the border. So, what if I just zipped around the whole outside, trimmed it, and then through the magic of photography it will look finished? Did it work? Did I fool you back in March? (The entire left side of the quilt in the picture above is unquilted — and there’s no binding…)
But it’s done now!!!! Well, actually a few months ago, actually. I procrastinated on the binding. Readers, please meet Video Killed the Radio Star, or affectionately, VKRS. I believe, to date, this is my husband’s favorite quilt — he’s asked to hang it above the sofa so it doesn’t get matted with cat fur. That’s a good sign. Also, I will apologize now for the photo overload. I am so happy that it’s done and I get to share it in all it’s done glory that I may have went overboard with the pictures. VKRS is very photogenic, though, wouldn’t you agree?
I really, really went to town on the quilting (hence sprained wrist) – I think every single thing I had learned from Angela Walter’s Craftsy videos to date is in there. Not the dot to dot quilting though, I watched that one after VKRS was done. There are feathers, tiles, clamshells, woodgrain, swirls, swirls mixed with leaves, big negative space bubbles like I did here, and sooooo many more. As with most quilts, you can see the quilting better on the back.
I’m so incredibly proud of those tiles. This was the first time I had ever tried them — they are a LOT easier than they look!
The back was pieced with some scraps and a 3yard cut I had of the yellow beehives. In the beginning, I really wanted to match the beehive print, but that was just not going to happen. Especially, after I struggled with it for three hours. So, instead, it’s a scrappy back, and I still have three more yards of the beehives for a future project. A win-win I would say, because the solids that are pieced in show the quilting sooooo very well.
I’m starting to run out of things to say…Hmmmm. Maybe I should just add some more pictures now?
Oh, the binding! So I tried about three options I believe, and none of them were right. First it was a light gray solid, and it was okay, but it didn’t provide enough contrast. Next, was a pretty coral and teal print from Art Gallery. It was okay, but not very assertive, and I felt like VKRS needed an assertive binding. Then I was out at a not-quite local quilting store and they had this perfect purple sateen. Then the bears came home and found Goldilocks – oh wait, that’s a different story.
This won’t be the last time you see this binding. I bought too much of it (of course!) and it has already started to make its way into another project.
Aaaaaand, the end.
(Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday, since it’s been finished for many Fridays)
Hi! Have you melted yet? It seems most of us are experiencing some of the hottest days so far this year, which is, well, less than desirable. Here in the Northeast it’s very warm and very muggy. Ironically, all those people who complained about the snow this winter are now complaining about the heat… Guess you can’t make some people happy.
Speaking of happy — I finished a queen size quilt top!!! 96″ x 96″ Ta-da! It started with fighting octopuses…
The humidity tends to set in any wrinkles, can you tell? This also isn’t even the whole quilt top; part is draped over the railing so it wouldn’t fly away. Photo shoots don’t always go so well. See, I have proof:
It slipped just before the timer went off. I did this photo shoot by myself using a tripod and a timer, so there were a few outtakes. Would you like to see the proof that it was warm and muggy? Do you see the little photo bomb above? No? Let me zoom in for you.
My glasses kept sliding down my face, so I took them off. I didn’t realize they made it into the photo till I was editing the pictures. Oh well, you don’t mind, do you?
So how is summer going for you? Are you camped in front of the AC like me? Off at the beach? Or are you down under, snuggling under a quilt?
I have been, ahem, hoarding a fat quarter bundle of Tula Pink’s Saltwater, since it came out a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for the right quilt pattern.
Finding the right pattern has been a long, laborious hunt. I wanted something that truly showed off the beauty of the fabrics, so it needed to have large pieces. I didn’t want something so complicated you saw the pattern before you saw the fabrics. And I wanted something with a bit of a classic appeal to it, so I would never fall out of love or regret using my precious fabric. It was worth waiting until I found the right pattern.
Recently, such a pattern was published. Hurray! Cheryl, of Meadow Mist Designs, recently published her pattern called Grande Scrappy Tiles, an upsized version of her Scrappy Tiles. (I got to meet Cheryl in person at QuiltCon and she’s just awesome!!! Seriously, look at her patterns – they’re clearly written, and really nicely done.) With big giant pieces, the fabric is really going to be shown off, and I was even able to fussy cut some of the cuter elements, like the octopi and submarines. Big smiles and happy dances going on here this week.
For the first time ever, I cut out all the pieces for the entire queen size quilt. Usually, I opt to cut as I go, but this was actually super, super easy. Cheryl includes great cutting diagrams in the pattern, and it went super fast. That picture above is all the pieces. It looks so small to be an entire queen size quilt…
Here are the first four blocks:
I added a few solids, and semi solids (a Lizzy House print!) to give a little more room for the gorgeous fabrics to breathe. I’m so, so very excited to get this finished!!!
What sewing projects have made you super excited lately?