Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jennifer's Fairies Update 6/30/2010

Last night I got the main part of the quilt top pieced together and the two side borders attached.  Tonight I'll finish the quilt and deliver tomorrow.  Jennifer will be so surprised!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jennifer's Fairies Update 6/29/10

Last night I worked till 1:00 AM on Jennifer's Fairies.  I cut the fairy and butterfly fat quarters into 4 and 6 pieces, then framed nine of them with narrow blue borders.  My goals tonight are to attach wide yellow borders, assemble into the main quilt top, then attach a wide blue border.  If I'm lucky I'll be able to get the quilt sandwich ready for a pillowcase finish before bed. 

We'll see what I can accomplish.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What I'm Working On 6/28/10

I'm starting to work on Jennifer's Fairies, a quilt for co-worker Jennifer who will retire on Thursday. Yes, this Thursday. I have a couple of cute fat quarters (fairies and butterflies) that I will cut into four and six equal parts, frame each with a narrow border, then apply wide strips to build into large blocks--9 in total. After that, it's a wide border. This quilt needs to be quick; nonetheless it will be pretty in yellow, pink and blue.

This will be the third retirement quilt I've made in the last month or so. Four people are retiring on Thursday; one received a quilt from me a few years ago (sigh of relief). I've delivered two of the three--Sweet and Sour, as well as David's Plaids which I finished at 2:30 this morning (more about that quilt on a later post). Jennifer's is the last for this group.

I'll be busy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Projects Update 6/27/10

I finished the background for Piper's Polka Dots several days ago.  It's in two large sections, as I will quilt them separately.  I set that project aside to work on David's Plaids, for co-worker David who will retire this week.  The main part of the quilt top is done, and I'm attaching the borders now.  My goal is to finish the quilt tonight and present it tomorrow.  Then tomorrow evening I plan to begin Jennifer's Fairies, for Jennifer--another co-worker who is retiring this week.  The title is a play on Jennifer's last name, and features a pretty fairy fabric.  That quilt will be a quick one!

I have no photos to show for any of the projects just yet, as I'm busy sewing, but I'll post them by this time next week.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Piper's Polka Dots and David's Plaids

Currently I'm working on two projects: Piper's Polka Dots and David's Plaids. Piper's Polka Dots is for my new granddaughter Piper. Her bedroom walls are painted pale lime green with huge dinner plate sized pink polka dots all over them. Her quilt has a scrappy background of lime green squares, and will have big pink polka dots scattered on it.

I'm also working on David's Plaids for retiring co-worker David, who wears plaid and denim shirts often. He went to school with George Lucas of Star Wars and American Graffiti fame, and has fond memories of cruising around Modesto as a teenager. I chose the block Dad's Plaids, which will feature a red plaid, denim, white and navy. In the alternating plain squares will go a navy/red/white fabric with 50's cars, diners and motels--to give an American Graffiti feel. That fabric was my second choice, actually. Earlier I found a great Mel's Drive-in type of print, which would have been fantastic. But the car hops' shorts were way, way, way too short and showed way, way, way too much leg to be included in a quilt for buttoned-up David. I think I made a good judgment call.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sweet and Sour Quilt Finished

I finished Sweet and Sour on Sunday night.  On Monday I gave the quilt to soon-to-be-retired co-worker Greg A., who is known for singing Happy Birthday very badly on purpose.  He is accompanied by fellow co-worker and violinist Ramin T., who plays a verse on the violin the right way.  Then Greg joins him singly loudly and off-key.  The duo is known as Sweet (Ramin) and Sour (Greg).  People love to be serenaded.

Sweet and Sour Quilt  60" x 75"
Original Design
Mostly from stash

Birthday Card found at grocery store
The card reminded me of Greg, and was the inspiration for the quilt.

I transferred the image from the birthday card to an inkjet fabric sheet, then worked it into the quilt.  I included fabric featuring oranges (sweet) and lemons (sour).  Also included is a tropical jungle print, referring to the Hawaiian shirts that Greg wears often. The quilt pattern looks more difficult than it really is (please see previous posts for the process).

A bit of trivia:  Several years ago a group of quilters and I made a quilt for Greg's wife Lillian as she was going through a serious illness.  Now they both have a quilt.

The rest of this post shows details from quilt top to finished quilt.

Usually do a pillowcase finish when I tie.  Trying a traditional quilt sandwich, tie, then bind.  Hairclips hold layers together. 

By the way, I lay out quilts on my bed.  Years ago I moved into a small apartment and had no room on the floor to lay out a throw-sized quilt.  The top of my mattress worked well.  I use a fitted plastic mattress cover from Wal-Mart ($5), which makes it easy to move the quilt around--no drag from fabric against fabric.

Hairclips all the way around the edges of the quilt.  Could use pins, but why stick myself?

Quilt ready for tying.  I like to start tying in the center.

DMC embroidery floss--had these on hand
I like to use floss that coordinates with the fabric, usually several colors per quilt.  If I don't have what I need in my floss stash, I take samples of fabric or the whole quilt top with me to the craft store.

My best tools for tying--curved needle and needle threader.  Found in needlework section of craft stores.

Needle threader through the eye of the curved needle, then loop the full 6 strands of floss through the threader.  Pull the threader to draw the floss through the needle's eye.

Ready to go

With this complicated pattern, using straight pins to mark where the ties will go, about a dozen per block.

Take a 1/4" stitch through the quilt layers.  Curved needle comes right through in one step.

2.5" - 3" tails

Surgeon's knot:  loop twice, pull; loop twice again, pull. 
Trim tails to about 1".

Trimmings.  I use a paper like this to collect the trimmings.  I dump the trimmings in the trash as each row is finished.

I usually string a whole row in one color before I cut the tails.

When I get to the end of a row, I cut tails, pulling thread as I make my way across the row. There isn't much thread wasted, and I only have to thread the needle once per color per row; I tie knots for that color before moving on to another color.

A section of the first row with ties

Trimmings from the first row...into the trash

Once all the knots were tied, I attached the binding, one side at a time.  I haven't decided whether I prefer the pillowcase or binding method with tying.  Certainly with the binding, it's a nicer finish.  I'll give it another try sometime and see what I think.

Another WIP finish.  Enjoy retirement, Greg!  We'll miss your singing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sweet and Sour Top Done

I finished the Sweet and Sour quilt top on Friday night.

Sweet and Sour quilt top
Read on for details on trimming and laying out of the blocks

Drafting a pattern for 15.5" unfinished block.
Drawn on tracing paper.  The X helps center the pattern.

Pattern laid on block.  Mark corners.  (I use ultra fine permanent ink pen.) Remove pattern, use ruler and rotary cutter to cut to size.

Block trimmed to 15.5" unfinished

Two more blocks trimmed to size

Marking on black/green batik wasn't going to work. Snipped about 1/2" on either side of the corner, cut away to reveal desired corner.

Four of five rows laid out as numbered.  Four more blocks (fruit with no numbers) to be placed.

This area bothers me.  See the center blocks where the red, dark greens and oranges line up one on another.  Just too matchy-matchy.

Worked fruit blocks into layout.

Moved some blocks around

Matchy-matchy happening again--see the center area.

More moving around.  Could play around for days, but happy with this arrangement.

Quilt top sewn together

Monday, June 07, 2010

Sweet and Sour Blocks Sewn, Ready to Trim to Size

With color ink in my printer, the next step is to transfer the image of the cowboy from the birthday card to fabric.  I use June Tailor Sew-In Colorfast Fabric Sheets.  I buy them at Joann's at $9.99 for three 8.5" x 11" sheets.  I use my 40% off coupons whenever possible, which brings them to about $6 per package.

The sheets are pretty easy to use.  I chose the sew-in type so I can cut it up and use like regular fabric.

June Tailor Inkjet Fabric Sheets

Before I printed on the sheet, I experimented with different sized images and cropping, printing on regular paper as a preview.  My final choice was a size that was just a little larger than the original.  Below you can see the image printed on the white fabric sheet.

Cowboy image printed on June Tailor fabric sheet

After printing, you wait at least 10 minutes for the ink to dry.  Peel off the backing paper, rinse in cold water, then lay flat to dry, wiping off excess water.  Press with a dry iron to set the ink.  Once you've printed, the process takes less than an hour.  Not bad.  The fabric is a bit stiff, almost plastic-feeling.  Kind of like canvas.  But I love having the ability to make my own fabric.

While I waited for the cowboy fabric to dry, I experimented to see where to make the vertical and horizontal cuts.  Chili fabric is standing in for the cowboy.  I want to make sure I don't cut into the cowboy.  I considered bringing a new fabric to fill a gap over the cowboy, but a small jungle piece worked great.

Trimmed cowboy fabric, leaving a 1/4" border around the dark green background.

Adding fabric to sides

Trimmed top and bottom even with cowboy border

Added top and bottom fabrics.  Oversized on purpose, which leaves plenty of room for chopping.

Three fruit fabrics on bottom, one of smallest 4/5 blocks on top

Jungle and cowboy placed on the stack, made wonky vertical cut

Wonky horizontal cut made

Jungle pieces are too short--hairclips mark the spots.

Took scrap pieces of jungle fabric, added to fill up the spaces.
Re-trimmed--see hairclip in center, where you can barely tell.
Handled other piece differently; was wide enough to scoot over and trim, avoiding new seam.  See hairclip on oranges fabric, showing difference in width of jungle pieces.

Trimming from piece that was scooted over

Mixing stacks.  Alternating blocks with 4 and 5 pieces on top row.

Lemon fabric used as pattern for vertical cut

Two upper fruit fabrics (not shown) were used to create pattern for horizontal cut.

Fruit, cowboy and jungle pieces (medley) mixed Stack the Deck style to create variety.

Working with stacks of eight 4/5 blocks.  Medley fabric inserted into each 4/5 stack:  1, 2, Medley, 3, 4, 5, 6, Medley, 7, 8. Then mixed Stack the Deck style.

Upper halves sewn together, then lower halves sewn together.  Next sew upper to lower to form block.

First few blocks, ready to trim to size.
About 16" square, which is good for the 15.5" unfinished size I wanted.