Monday, July 18, 2016

Two More Quilt Tops Quilted and Bound

I've quilted two more of the many quilt tops waiting patiently to be quilted.


The first quilt, made from an American Jane pattern called See Saw. It can be made from a jelly roll, although I used a fat-eighth pack for the main fabric in each block and a jelly roll for the centers.

I chose a simple edge-to-edge motif for the quilting.


I'm not sure who the lucky recipient will be, but with lots of grand nieces and nephews who have outgrown their baby quilt, I'm thinking it's time to start gifting them with a twin-size quilt.

I definitely know who the next quilt is for -- ME! It matches my living room furniture perfectly.


This fabric is Basic Gray's second Little Black Dress line for Moda. I loved using this fabric because it was designed by my cousin's daughter, Rachel, who owns Basic Gray.





Time to get another quilt on the frame. No time this week and traveling for work the beginning of next week. But having quilted seven quilts in the last month or so, I'm making good progress.

Update on the reunion quilts: They each garnered $300 towards the family fund for maintaining our grandparents' homestead property. Yay!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Quilting Catch-Up

After quilting three reunion quilts (see previous post), I was feeling good about my successes with quilting edge-to-edge designs with HQ Pro-Stitcher, the computerized quilting robotics that works with my HQ Avante.

Until now, it seemed like I had some major blooper (usually user error) with each quilt. But with more than a dozen quilts under my belt, I had figured out most of the tweaks I need to do to quilt without issues.

I've learned that I prefer Omni thread from Superior Threads for my top thread. It's 40-weight thread that is nice and strong, and shows up well when quilted. I've also found that I prefer So Fine (also from Superior Threads) in the bobbin. It's a slightly thinner thread (50-weight).

I also have the most success with my needle (size 18 rather than 16) rotated slightly to the 5:30 position. And, if I stitch at a speed just a bit slower than the HQ Avante's middle speed, I get the precision I like and no thread breaks or shredding. I've now finished four quilts with no thread breaks. Yay!

So, with my new-found confidence in computerized machine quilting, I've been finishing lots of quilts from my to-do pile.

The first quilt was from a class I took from Amy Smart at January's Winter Quiltfest. Easy quilt -- I could have made it without the pattern or class -- but I enjoy taking classes in hopes that I'll learn something new (even after several decades of making quilts). My Pfaff machine that I take to classes was acting finicky, so I did most of the piecing on my Baby Lock, which is too heavy to take to classes. And, ta da! It's done! (But can I just say how much I hate assembling on-point settings? I love they way they look, but don't like putting them together.)





So, I started looking for a quilt top for which I already had backing. (It's been an expensive month due to getting a new water heater and some costly car repairs, so I didn't want to buy backing if I didn't have to.) I decided on a quilt made from a Moda Bonnie and Camille line called April Showers.


I saw the block online and drafted it in Electric Quilt. I quilted it using an umbrella motif designed by Nancy Haacke, Wasatch Quilting.


It will be the perfect quilt for the next great niece born to one of my nieces or nieces-in-law.

I've since quilted two more quilts that have been waiting to be finished. They are with my mom, who thankfully hand-stitches down my binding. I'll share them when I get the quilts back from her. (Thanks Mom!)

All in all, it's been a productive past few weeks. Seven quilts quilted and bound!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Family Reunion Quilts

My mom's family has an annual family reunion at the farm/homestead property that had belonged to my grandparents. Their descendants now own the property in a very small town in southeastern Idaho named Oxford.

Photo of Grandpa Fisher's dairy barn -- complete with a barn quilt
Technically Oxford is a "living ghost town" because fewer than 50 people live there. The official count from the 2010 census was 48. When we have our reunion we literally quadruple the population because there are typically more than 150 people who attend -- including the first generation (my mom and her siblings), my generation (including my 47 cousins and their spouses), their children (great-grandchildren to my grandparents), and now their children's children (my grandparents' great-great grandchildren). I would guess that if everyone were able to attend, we would have close to 300 people in attendance.

To raise money to pay the property taxes and maintain the property, we need to do fund raisers at our reunion. I decided to make a quilt to contribute to a silent auction.

My grandmother was a quilter and I blogged about one of her quilts here. It's no coincidence, therefore, that many of her granddaughters and great-granddaughters are also quilters. So I invited them to donate blocks for the quilt -- which turned out to be three quilts!

I asked the contributors to use traditional fabrics and make a traditional block that would finish 12 inches. One cousin was especially energetic and she made nine blocks -- all with the same block pattern. Although I expected the finished quilts would be sampler-style quilts, since she did multiples of the same block, I made three more so I'd have 12 blocks for the quilt. Of course, the blocks are scrappy, so here's the scrappy setting I came up with for the first quilt.




I'm hoping that since my cousin made most of the blocks, that she'll strive to be the high bidder for this quilt!

For the next quilt I was able to cherry-pick the blocks that I felt worked well together. For the setting, I created a pieced sashing with pieced 9-patch cornerstones.




For the third quilt, I was left with blocks that had very little in common with each other. One cousin sent three blocks that shared some common fabrics, They went well with each other, but not necessarily with the other contributed blocks. My challenge was to unify the blocks in a pleasing way. Here was my solution:


The result was a very nontraditional approach to the quilt setting. Although the donated blocks were great, I felt that I almost needed to create something that downplayed the blocks. The striped alternate blocks did that well. I think this is almost my favorite of the three quilts. I especially love the backing and the scrappy border.



Here's hoping the quilts garner several hundred dollars towards the funds necessary to maintain my grandparents' property.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

One-Woman Quilt Exhibit

Featuring MY QUILTS! Before you get too excited, the gallery is the gallery at Handi Quilter (where I work). But it is fun seeing about 25 of my quilts all hanging together.


Most of the quilts are from my book with Martingale/That Patchwork Place, Triple-Play Scrap Quilting. The book features scrappy quilts using one of my three strategies for getting a scrappy look: (1) Planned Scrappy, where you select fabrics that all adhere to a color scheme of three or four colors; (2) Coordinated Scrappy, where you buy precuts and yardage featuring the fabrics in a fabric line; and (3) Make-Do Scrappy, where anything goes and you use dozens of fabrics literally from your scrap pile.

Here are a couple examples of planned scrappy quilts:

 


Although I'm calling this a planned quilt, it kind of breaks the rules of following a limited color scheme. But I did stick to a particular style of fabrics -- all solids.

Here are some examples of coordinated scrappy quilts:




 And here are examples of some of the make-do scrappy quilts -- my favorite style of all!




The exhibit will be up until the end of April. And then I have to find space for all of these quilts again at home.

By the way, whenever the Handi Quilter offices are open (week days, normal business hours), the public is welcome to come and see all of our quilts -- both in the gallery and hanging throughout the building.
 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Last Finish of 2015

Earlier in 2015 a friend and I stopped at American Quilting in Orem, UT on our way to the US debut of the musical Count of Monte Cristo at Brigham Young University.

While there I picked up a variety of red, green, and white fabrics. They weren't from the same fabric line, but for some reason the fabrics spoke to me at the time.

I didn't wait to make something out of the small group of fabrics. I picked out one of Miss Rosie's (aka Carrie Nelson) Schnibbles patterns that I hadn't made and stitched up the top.

Then, during Christmas week I quilted it up. Often, the choice as to which project I will quilt is determined by whether I already have backing fabric in my stash and don't have to buy something to get the quilt finished. And this quilt fit the bill.


I didn't do anything fancy with the quilting -- just a simple overall design with loops and stars. But it's done! Not sure what its ultimate destiny will be -- I'll probably give it to someone, sometime.



Only about 30 unquilted quilt tops to go.


Friday, January 8, 2016

One More Baby Quilt and First Finish of 2016

I've been catching up on baby quilts for the children of my nieces and nephews.

My niece, Cassie, told me that she is planning to decorate the nursery for her upcoming son. Fisher, using a robot theme. So I began searching for robot fabric and found the perfect choice -- so perfect, in fact, that I decided to do a whole-cloth quilt. I found the coordinating striped fabric and added a border. Backed it with black minkey and bound it with medium aqua solid.

I quilted it using a Wasatch Quilting design, Round Pegs in Square Holes, which echoed the circles and squares that make up the robot designs.





So that's the first of five baby-boy quilts I need to get finished over the next few months. And this one is done before the baby is born!


Monday, December 21, 2015

Heirloom Quilts

My mother's mother was a prolific quilter. Up until about three months ago, I was aware of four quilts she made for my mother. Several years ago my mom gave each of us four siblings one of the quilts. Since I'm the oldest, I got first pick. So I naturally picked the double wedding ring quilt she made for my parents when they married 63 years ago. These are photos of my Grandmother: one from when she was about 16 or 17, and one from about about the time of her 50th wedding anniversary.

 

I mentioned to my mom that I would love to try to catalog all of the quilts her mother made for her children (eight of them) and her 47 grandchildren. It was a couple days later thay my mom told me she ran across four more quilts that Grandma had made for her. Three are baby quilts with embroidered tops. One of the quilts was made for me as a baby, but it is in very bad condition. The back is in threads. I guess I must have really loved the quilt. It was fun to know about and see these baby quilts. (I'll do a separate blog post about them sometime soon.)

But the quilt that really caught my eye was a machine-pieced, hand-quilted star quilt featuring stars made from 60-degree diamonds set around a yellow hexagon.


 

I absolutely love this quilt. Yes, it IS machine pieced. I love the variety of fabrics. And especially the snail print in the block above. While there are a few repeats, most stars use a fabric that isn't used elsewhere in the quilt.

I decided to see how hard it would be to make the block. I started with a star from six 60-degree diamonds with a hexagon appliqued over the center. It looked fine, but clearly wasn't how my Grandmother made the block

It was interesting that after becoming aware of this quilt, I started noticing sixty-degree diamond star quilts all of the time. Jaybird Quilts is clearly the master of sixty-degree diamond quilts! I did buy her Hex and More ruler for cutting my diamonds.

Here is the classic Seven Sisters block, comprising seven sixty-degree stars set together as a hexagon. The large hexagon blocks are then set together to form the full quilt.

 

Close, but no hexagon center to the stars. Plus, my Grandmother's quilt is set together differently.

Then I discovered this quilt block. The stars have the hexagon centers. Getting closer, but the setting still wasn't quite right with the large hexagon at the center.


Here's a quilt set like my Grandmother's, but still no hexagon centers.


I thought I might be on to how to set the quilt together. Unfortunately, no such luck. Without the hexagon center, it can be put together just like a tumbling block quilt. (If you change the values of the diamonds, you have a tumbling block quilts. Several clever quilters have even figured out how to strip piece this quilt. But it can't be done with the hexagon centers.)

So I did some more test blocks to make sure I could machine piece the block with the hexagon center. First a star that is bigger than my Grandmother's quilt:

 I

Successful piecing! Plus lots of practice with Y-seams. (I'd done them before, but after doing a few, I could tell that the Y-seams would go well. Just need to take my time.)

Here's a smaller version of the block (with a fussy-cut hexagon center):


I think my next step is select my fabrics, piece all of the stars, arrange them, and then figure out how to set the blocks together with the diamonds. I'm sure it will become obvious after I lay it out.

But I've already learned so much just doing the test blocks. But the number one thing I learned is that my Grandmother did not shy away from quilts that have some complexity to them. I already knew that she made several double wedding ring quilts for her children. But this one was clearly tricky and not for the beginning quilt maker. She must have liked the challenge of this quilt and felt a real sense of accomplishment when it was completed. While she used scraps, she unified the quilt with the same background fabric and center hexagon stars. Grandma, I'm impressed! And I've already told my mom she's not getting this quilt back!

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