Monday, May 31, 2010

Sweet and Sour Design Changes

I was uploading some quilts to a Picasa album today, when I came across the quilt below.  I'm thinking of doing something similar for the Sweet and Sour Quilt, rather than a plain Turning Twenty.

Bicycles and Baseball

I made Bicycles and Baseball a few years ago for a co-worker Chris, who likes to watch the Tour de France and plays softball.  I wanted something more complicated looking than a plain Turning Twenty, so I played around and ended up with this design.  I can't remember exactly what I did, so I'll take my best guess.

Cutting instructions, maybe

Disclaimer:  After writing the directions below, I think they aren't quite right.  According to the Process Pledge, I'm supposed to express my thoughts, even if they don't work out.  So here they are.  I'm going to take notes as I actually make the blocks and post more accurate instructions later.

Take 20 fat quarters and square them up to about 18". At this point, if you have any large prints that you'd rather not get too chopped up, set them aside for later. Stack several of the other fabrics, make three wonky vertical cuts to create stacks of 4 strips (step 1). Mix the strips Stack the Deck style, and sew sets of strips together to make strippy blocks. By the way, the edges will be out of whack for a while, but that's okay. Repeat until all strippy blocks have been created. It's okay if the cuts are not identical from stack to stack.

Divide blocks into two stacks. If desired, turn one stack on its head to create a variety of directions in patches. Mix the stacks together A-B-A-B, etc. This should create lots of variety of fabrics within the blocks. Pile several blocks and take two wonky horizontal cuts to create stacks of 3 strips (step 2). Mix them up Stack the deck style again and sew blocks together. Repeat until all the blocks are done. You should have crazy patchwork looking blocks now.

Now take your large print fabrics and distribute them among the patchwork blocks as evenly as possible. Take one wonky vertical cut, mix up the strips and sew together (step 3). Take one wonky horizontal cut, mix strips and sew back together. Your large prints should still be pretty big chunks, and right side up if directional.

Trim each block (20 of them) to the desired size. I like 12.5" unfinished. Arrange on design wall 4 x 5 blocks, and sew together. Add a border if desired.

Jungle fabric added to the collection for Sweet and Sour.
Colors work well, and relate to Hawaii.  From stash.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet and Sour Quilt: Beginnings

My next quilt is for a co-worker Greg, who is retiring the first of July.  What he is best known for in the office is singing Happy Birthday very badly--on purpose.  He is accompanied by Ramin, another co-worker, who plays the song on the violin the normal way, sort of as an introduction.  Then the two of them perform with Greg singing off-key, very loudly.  It's hilarious and people look forward to being serenaded.  Greg calls their duo Sweet and Sour.  Ramin is Sweet and Greg is Sour.

Birthday card that launched the quilt

A couple of months ago I found the birthday card above at the supermarket.  It made me laugh, and reminded me so much of Greg.  I knew right away I needed to make a quilt around it, so I bought it.

Recently I started working on the quilt mentally, kind of a preparation before shopping for fabric.  As I often do, I went to, and began to read the list of blocks, looking for block names that seem to relate to Greg or the quilt theme.  I sketched a few blocks.  An Internet search turned up an easy Sweet and Sour Quilt in pink and green stripes that was interesting, and I could always swap out the colors.  Also, I found quilt kits called Sweet and Sour, too, but I'm not one to do kits and the colors weren't right.  Below are my notes.

Design notes
Explanation:  Greg was in the Air Force; Double Quartet sounds musical; Economy relates to Greg's accounting position; End of the Day sounds like retirement; Four and Twenty Blackbirds--part of the nursery rhyme and song Sing a Song of Sixpence (music); "Sweet" Dreams; my sketches of the Sweet and Sour Quilt.

I'm aware of Pickle Dish block patterns (above), which are cousins of Double Wedding Ring, and they certainly would have been great to represent Sour, but I'm not ready to do them.

Even after a few days of letting the ideas percolate, the quilt design wasn't forthcoming.  But one thing I knew for sure was that I would put the little cowboy picture on the quilt using an Inkjet Fabric transfer.  That determined the quilt's color scheme of orange/yellow/green.  I headed to Fields of Fabric, a nearby quilt shop, in hopes of some inspiration.  I lucked out when I found the fabrics below:

Sweet (Oranges) and Sour (Lemons)!
I bought the mixed fabric for the colors.

I knew these fabrics were perfect when I saw them.  I couldn't find any fat quarters, but the quilt shop owner cut some for me.  As I gathered the fabrics, the collection began to seem too citrusy, so I picked up some darker colors, which brought some grounding.  Included are some batiks, which refer to the Hawaiian shirts that Greg often wears.  Also while I was shopping, it occurred to me to do a Turning Twenty style quilt.  It's fast, and the most interesting part of the quilt is the cowboy picture, anyway.  It would be fine.  Done deal!  All told, I walked away with 8 fat quarters.

Today I shopped my stash for more fat quarters, and found enough to make the quilt top (20+ fabrics).  I don't know if Greg likes these colors, but they're what he's getting.  I think he'll appreciate the quilt no matter what.

Fabric collection for Sweet and Sour Quilt

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt Finished

Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt
54" Square   Top is all from stash.
This top began on a day when I was a little bored with no quilt deadlines in the near future.  Some time ago I sorted my scraps by width and color temperature (cool and warm).  The scraps all fit into six 12" x 12" x 2" plastic drawers, except a collection of less than 2.5" cool colors, which I stored in a brown paper lunch bag on top of the drawers.  The bag had been bugging me for a while so I decided to do something with it.

I found a few long strips and sewed smaller pieces to it, chain piecing style.  I cut those apart and added them to another long strip.  I played like this for a while, adding strips or smaller pieces, trimming edges as I went.  I didn't worry about whether the blocks were square or the same size.  I made nine good sized blocks and decided I'd done enough of them.  I could have made the blocks larger or created more, but I'd reached the Been There, Done That stage, so I stopped.  By the way, I had lots of those less than 2.5" scraps left, all of which I gave to Project Linus--both cool and warm colors.  Someone will enjoy working with them.

A sample of the crumb blocks

Quilt sketch

So now how do I make a quilt of these blocks?  I sketched a quilt design with 9 blocks and decided that 12" finished would be good, with a couple of borders to bring the quilt to a nice lap size.  I found a bright yellow print for bold contrast with the blocks.  If the blocks were 6.5" square (which they weren't) I would need 3.5" strips to end up with 12.5" finished blocks.  After some figuring I cut 4.5" strips and framed each block in the yellow fabric to build them oversized.
I placed a 12.5" template made of tracing paper on the oversized block, centering as best as I could, and marked the corners for trimming.

Here's a sample block trimmed and sewn into the quilt top.  Each block has a slightly different frame due to the individual shapes and sizes of the crumb blocks.

Blocks assembled together, with a solid yellow border attached.

Close-up showing the solid and the print.  There's almost no difference.

Blue border attached - Finished quilt top

I did a pillowcase finish with the batting, backing and quilt top.  (See the previous post for details.)  I tied with all six strands of embroidery floss.

Close-up of ties.  I do a double knot and leave the ends about an inch long.  I like to use thread that blends with the area I'm tying.  The blue crumb blocks have one tie in the center.  I tied the blue border, as well.

Finished Quilt

I took the finished quilt to my church yesterday afternoon as soon as I completed it.  Why the hurry?  I had always intended this quilt to be given to my church, to be distributed to someone going through a difficult time.  I had previously spoken to Pastor Cliff, our lovingly named "Pastor of Disaster" who visits people in the hospital, distributes food vouchers to needy people, etc., about donating quilts to the church for him to  give out as he sees fit. 

It so happens that during last week's sermon our head pastor challenged each of us to do something proactive in our community during the week and email him about it.  Finishing and delivering this quilt was my self-assigned homework--which I accomplished within the week.  I emailed both the pastor who presented the challenge as well as the visiting pastor who will give the quilt away.  I hope whomever receives the quilt will find comfort and peace from it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt Nearly Done

Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt Top

The Blue and Yellow Crumb quilt is almost finished.  A couple of nights ago I layered the quilt sandwich for pillowcase finish:  batting on the bottom, backing face up (I used a $4 sheet from Wal-Mart as I do for nearly all of the quilts I give to charity), then the quilt top face down.  I trimmed within about an inch of the quilt top and secured the layers with metal hair clips around the edges of the quilt.  It was late so I set the quilt aside.

Last night I sewed around the edge of the quilt with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving a space about 12" long unsewn for turning the quilt right side out later.  With the edges sewn, I trimmed away the excess fabric, nipped a little square from the corners, reached in through the open space and turned the quilt right side out.  I used a chopstick to push the corners out.  I pinned the open space closed, then topstitched all the way around the edge of the quilt with a narrow seam allowance, less than 1/4".  This closes the open space; functionally it isn't necessary to topstitch all the way around, but I like the look and it sort of disguises where the open space was.

Next I'll tie with embroidery floss.

P.S.  I just realized that I haven't posted any pictures of this quilt.  Yikes!  I added the photo of the quilt top, and on the next post I'll show more pics of the quilt in progress.  I've got some catching up to do!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chapel Window Finished

Chapel Window  26" square
Based on Musical Chairs blocks from the book Quilters Playtime by Dianne S. Hire
Project began during my April at-home retreat.
Mostly from stash.

I finished Chapel Window last night.  The panes reminded me of stained glass, which inspired me to put them in an Attic Windows setting.  For a while I didn't know what color the interior of the chapel wanted to be, but I imagined a small white church.  As a high school student I was privileged to go to France for several weeks, and I remember going to the chapel Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, with its beautiful stained glass windows.  So I decided to create a marble or stone look to surround the stained glass.  This is represented in the marbled gray fabrics.

I tried several decorative stitches before choosing this one:  #146 on my Bernina 440QE.
I love the swirls.  I almost used black thread, then decided to use my favorite color purple.  Why not?

Here's a better look from the back.  I quilted through the top and backing only, since I was going to do a pillowcase technique to finish the edges of the quilt.

All blocks quilted with swirls.  The openness of the swirls allows you to see how the seams don't line up, which I think adds to the quilt's charm.

This is a little hard to see here, but I did some straight stitching to do some outlining.  I decided not to outline in the lighter gray areas, which would have highlighted my boo-boos.

You can see the outlining better here.

All of the blocks outlined.

I did a pillowcase technique to finish the edges.  I cut the backing oversized, then sliced it horizontally about 1/3 of the way down.  I sewed the backing pieces together with a wide seam (1/2"), leaving several inches open in the center--between the pins.

I pressed the seam, choosing to press toward the top of the backing.  The chopstick indicates the open area in the middle.  This is my escape hatch, where I will turn the quilt right side out later.

I taped the escape hatch closed to keep it from stretching during the next step.

I laid the backing right side up, and in each corner placed folded triangles made from 5" squares. The triangles will create little pockets to hold a length of wood for hanging on the wall.  The quilted top was placed face down on the backing/triangles, and secured with a few pins.  Next I sewed all the way around the edges with 1/4" seam.  Trim the corners a bit, reach into the escape hatch, remove the tape, and turn the quilt right side out.  I used a chopstick to push the corners out.  I pressed the quilt to make it flatter.

Quilt back with corner pockets for hanging.  I'll probably close the opening with Stitch Witchery.

Finished wallhanging

Another WIP finished!

Chapel Window Quilt Top Done

Chapel Window is finished, but there are a lot of photos, so I decided to blog in two parts.  The project began with Musical Chairs Blocks from the book Quilters Playtime by Dianne S. Hire.

Finished top.  Read on for more details.

Considered using 1/4" bias tape for leading, but decided it wasn't necessary.

I created a template from tracing paper, 6.5" unfinished. 
The X through the corners helps with centering the template. 
I marked the corners with white tailor's chalk for trimming.

Block trimmed to 6.5" unfinished.

All blocks trimmed up.

Dark strip added to side.

Dark sides to all blocks.

Traditionally, there is a set-in seam in the corner.  I decided to take an easier route.
I placed a dark square on the medium strip and sewed a diagonal seam.

Excess dark fabric trimmed off.

Dark pressed into place.  I did not cut away the medium gray fabric behind the dark.

Ready to sew together.

Attic Windows block

All Attic Windows blocks

Narrow vertical strips sewn in.

Horizontal strips finish the window.

Narrow border attached

Next, quilting!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back to Quilting

I've been rather hit or miss with quilting for the past 2-3 weeks.  I finished a top in sort of a crumb style, with squarish blocks made of leftover strips in blues/purples/greens.  The blocks are set in a bright yellow background, finished off with a blue border.  I'm hoping to finish this weekend and give the quilt to my church, to distribute to someone going through tough times.

I also finished the top for Chapel Window, made from Musical Chairs blocks seen in a previous post, set in an Attic Windows layout.  I surrounded the stained glass-looking panes with marbled grays in dark, medium light and very light to suggest a stone or marble church.  Tonight I began doing a little machine quilting.  I hope to finish that project this weekend, as well.

Pictures and details about both quilts coming soon.

Monday, May 03, 2010

I'm a Grandma Again

My granddaughter Piper Madison, the newest member of our family, arrived early this morning.  She weighs 7 pounds, 10 ounces and is 20 inches long.  This beautiful little girl and her mama (my daughter-in-law Laurie) are doing well.  My four-year-old granddaughter Reghan is happy to have a new little sister, and my son Robbie is proud to be a daddy again.

Welcome to the world, Piper!  Love, Grandma Debbie