Saturday, December 31, 2011

Progress - 12/31/2011

Echoes - Cathy's Southwest quilt is coming along. I'm more than halfway through finishing the blocks.
Here is the first row of blocks with strips attached. The purple is a little lighter than the original dark purple.

I've attached strips to four of seven rows. Three more to go!

At this point I've used up the scraps of backing from the original Cathy's Southwest. I'll have to cut into the yardage for the rest of the strips. I'll finish the last three rows tomorrow, then start assembling the quilt top.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday 12/28/2011

Centers of blocks for Echoes - Cathy's Southwest

I missed posting a WIP update last week. Blame it on getting ready for Christmas. In the past couple of weeks I've finished and delivered Cathy's Southwest, a mug rug, and A is for Angela. Also, I've begun working on a charity quilt that from the scraps of Cathy's Southwest, the first of a series of quilts I'm calling Echoes. The idea of Echoes is to make quilts that have similar color schemes as recently finished quilts. For the current Echoes quilt I've made a dozen scrappy units that will become the centers of blocks. There are a bunch of plain centers, as well. All of them will be surrounded by a medium purple to make a uniform background. I may attach a dark purple similar to the original quilt as an outside border. I'll start assembling the quilt top tomorrow.

Scrappy Units Finished

Scrappy Units for Echoes - Cathy's Southwest

Now that I've used up most of the smaller scraps from Cathy's Southwest, I'm going to call the scrappy units done. I have larger pieces of fabric left, and I may do big plain squares or multi-color four-patch for the remaining 22 centers.
Placement plan for scrappy blocks

I used a Random Teams Generator to plan the placement for the scrappy blocks, called Pieced Blocks in the chart. Person x represents the simpler center blocks. Each "team" represents a horizontal row. Once I have the rest of the centers made, I'll try the layout on the design wall, with the option to move things around a bit.

If I choose to make plain one-fabric centers, I'm thinking of using one color per row. I think the uniformity interrupted by scrappy blocks will be striking. We'll see when we get there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First Blocks for Echoes Quilt

First blocks for Echoes - Cathy's Southwest

Triangles and half-square triangle units leftover from the original Cathy's Southwest quilt

Pairing up turqoise and gold triangles. They aren't necessarily the same size.

New half-square triangle, not necessarily square, but I'm not concerned.

Added scraps from the original quilt, not worrying about symmetry, then trimmed to 6.5" unfinished square.

Every unit is a little bit different, and not like anything seen in the original quilt. I need 35 units and these took a couple of hours to make. I may make a few more like these, then simplify to save time. Each will be surrounded by medium purple solid, a bit lighter than the purple seen here. (My eye likes scrappy blocks against a consistent background and vice versa.)

I'll crank out some more units today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Echoes Quilts

Echoes Quilt - Grayscale
Each quilt will echo the colors of a recently finished quilt, using scraps whenever possible.

Some time ago I announced that I would be making quilts for a local family center where mothers who are in recovery from addiction live with their children. I decided that at least some of the quilts would be similar to recently finished quilts. I am calling them Echoes.

Cathy's Southwest

I'm beginning the first quilt today, which is an echo of Cathy's Southwest. It will have a similar color scheme, and while I will try to use up scraps to capture the mood of the original quilt, I will not attempt to mimic its blocks. I designed the quilts to be quick to make, using simple blocks. I hope that the recipients of the original quilts will be happy that an echo of their quilt will be going to a good cause.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mug Rug Details

Mug Rug*
For Gift Exchange at December Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild Meeting
Original design
Approx. 8" x 10"
Partly from stash
Completed 12/16/2011
*Small placemat to hold coffee mug and little plate for a pastry/donut/muffin

Top left - Coffee cups and mugs, which could contain coffee, tea or hot chocolate
Top right - red from stash seemed to go with the red in the theme fabric
Bottom - batik-looking fabric from stash, which would hide any stains from spills

Creating an "escape hatch" with the backing fabric, leaving an unsewn space in the center for turning the quilt later. It is a technique I learned in a Quilting Arts free e-book: "How to Bind a Quilt: 12 NEW Quilt Binding and Finishing Methods for Your Art Quilts". I've used this method several times, and I go into some written detail here.

As seen from the right side

Strip made by pressing toward the back on both long edges, overlapping a bit. Leaves the edges finished.

Placed the strip on the theme fabric off-center for style

Top-stitched along the long edges of the strip
Trimmed the strip even with the theme fabric

Scotch-taped the escape hatch closed on the right side.
Quilt sandwich: batting on bottom, theme fabric right side up, backing right side down.

Sewed all around the perimeter of the backing (1/4" seam allowance)

Quilt sandwich trimmed, corners notched out for turning

Reached through escape hatch, breaking through the tape, turned the quilt right side out. Used a chopstick to push out the corners.

Back of the mug rug
Used the left leg of the walking foot as a spacer to make (relatively) parallel quilting lines.
Stopped just short of each edge of the mug rug to avoid unquilted spaces that were smaller than the width between lines...something I picked up from Cotton Theory Quilting techniques.

Here's the finished mug rug

Here is the back

The mug rug was supposed to be about the size of a sheet of printer paper. Here it is on a sheet. Pretty close!
Guild member Pam ended up with the mug rug. I hope she enjoys using it as much as I enjoyed making it.

A is for Angela Quilt Finished and Delivered

A is for Angela
For young daughter of co-worker Margarita A.
Animal/Alphabet print provided by Margarita
Original design
54" square
Completed on 12/21/2011
A is for Angela - Close-up

I finished A is for Angela late Wednesday night, in time to deliver to co-worker Margarita on Thursday so she could give the quilt to Angela for Christmas. (In my office, most of us work 10 hour days Monday through Thursday.) I started sewing the quilt last Saturday night, completing the quilt in less than a week.

Margarita provided the animal/alphabet print, and asked that I bring out the pink in the print. I chose simple checkerboard blocks, mostly because I used a double four-patch for Angela's brother's baby quilt that I made years ago. I chose 8" finished checkerboards because the 2" squares look dainty, and the alternating 8" plain squares would show off the theme print without chopping it up too much.

I chose a medium pink solid and found a nice pale pink with little dots that I thought was girly. For the narrow border I considered a red like the alphabets in the print, but I went with a burgundy found in the dotted fabric.

My original idea was to use the pink as the wide outer border, but after the main part of the quilt top was done, the theme blocks seemed to disappear. I auditioned the theme print as the border and decided to go with it and I'm glad I did. The theme blocks don't look thrown in, the checkerboards don't outshine the print, and the whole design seems cohesive.

Back of A is for Angela

I don't usually do anything fancy for the backs of quilts. I generally choose a solid color that coordinates with the quilt top, admittedly because solids are inexpensive. In this case there was plenty of theme print, so I used it for the back. There wasn't quite enough to cover, so I added some of the medium pink solid. It works, and gave me a clear space to write a little label, which would have been difficult in the busy print. (I write on the actual fabric backing rather than attach a separate label.)

Margarita was very happy with the quilt, and I hope Angela enjoys snuggling up with it for many years to come.
Design notes

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A is for Angela Quilt Top Finished

A is for Angela quilt top

Tonight I sewed together the quilt top for A is for Angela. Originally I was going to do an outer border in solid pink. But after the main part of the top was together, the animal/alphabet theme print seemed to get lost among the checkerboards. I auditioned the theme print for the border, liked it better than the pink, and went for it. I'm really glad I made that decision, because the outer border helps to bring out the "lost" squares now.

I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow night to get it finished and delivered to Margarita on Thursday. My goal has been to give it to her in time for Christmas. It will be a long night, but I'm pretty tough.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We have a winner!

Congratulations, beaquilter! You are the winner* of the Moda Little Apples charm pack. I'll email you to get your snail mail address.

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and left wonderful comments. I am also grateful for so many new followers.

* #76 of 239 entries, using a random number generator

Saturday, December 17, 2011

100th Follower!

Congratulations, Nancy Sue, for becoming my 100th Follower! Your prize is 3 extra chances to win the Little Apples charm pack! Thanks for following!

Began Sewing A is for Angela

A is for Angela - Electric Quilt Sketch

Theme fabric on the left; accompanying fabrics on right

Tonight I started sewing A is for Angela, a quilt for Angela, the young daughter of co-worker Margarita A., who provided an animal and alphabet theme print. Margarita asked me to bring out the pink in the print, and I found a medium pink solid, a pale pink dot, and a burgundy similar to the one in the dot fabric. To show off the theme fabric and to avoid chopping up the larger areas, I chose a 16-patch checkerboard using the medium and pale pinks. The checkerboards will be alternated with large squares of the theme fabric. Burgundy will be used for a narrow inner border, then the medium pink will be used again for a wide outer border.

Strip piecing for the checkerboard. The strip set is actually twice the length shown. I folded it in half to avoid a very tall, narrow photo.

I cross-cut the strip set. Here are four of the 15 cross-cut units.

I flipped every other unit.

Here is the checkerboard sewn together. Twelve more of these need to be sewn, but they go together quickly.

My goal is to finish the quilt right away and deliver to Margarita in time for Christmas. I should be able to pull it off.
Design notes

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mug Rug Finished

Tonight I made a mug rug - a small placemat just big enough for a coffee cup and a small plate for a donut/pastry/muffin. I did a simple design which helped me get the mug rug done in just a few hours.

The mug rug was an assignment for a gift exchange at tomorrow's Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild meeting. I'm not going into detail about the fabric or design and I'm not posting pictures yet, as several guild members are followers of my blog. I'll get photos up by the end of the weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

WIP Wednesday 12/14/2011

Cathy's Southwest

This week I finished Cathy's Southwest, a quilt for my friend and co-worker Cathy C. The quilt was inspired by a Southwest-themed shirt she wore to work several years ago. I began sewing the quilt a couple of years ago, set it aside, then picked it up again in early November. I'm glad it's finished. I will take the quilt with me to Saturday's Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild meeting, and then give the quilt to Cathy next week.

My next project is a quilt for a little girl named Angela, the daughter of co-worker Margarita. Years ago I made a baby quilt for Angela's older brother Marcos, who was a newborn at the time. Margarita would like a quilt for Angela now. She offered to pay me, but since Marcos' quilt was a gift, Angela's quilt will be a gift, too. Margarita provided a theme fabric that has zoo animals and alphabets. I'm going to make some 16-patch checkerboard blocks and alternate with large pieces of the theme fabric. I expect the quilt to go pretty quickly, and it's my goal to give the quilt to Margarita next week in time for Christmas. I started ironing fabric and even cut some strips tonight. I'll post pictures of the fabrics and an Electric Quilt sketch within the next couple of days.

Also, I need to make a quick mug rug for a gift exchange at the guild meeting on Saturday. A mug rug basically is a small placemat, just large enough for a coffee mug and a little plate to hold a pastry, donut, muffin, etc. I bought a fat quarter for the project, and I plan to do a very simple design...trying to Modern it up a little. Don't expect to see any pictures of the mug rug until after the meeting, especially since a few guild members are followers of my blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cathy's Southwest Finished!

Cathy's Southwest
For friend and co-worker Cathy C.
59" square
New Mexico and Santa Fe Trail quilt blocks
Original design
Completed 12/12/2011

Above: Cathy's shirt that inspired the quilt

Last night I finished Cathy's Southwest quilt for friend and co-worker Cathy C. The quilt was inspired by a Southwest-themed shirt that Cathy wore many years ago (I'm guessing 5-6 years). I told her back then that it would make a great quilt. A couple of years ago I began working on the quilt during one of my quilting retreats by the sea. Then I set aside until my most recent retreat during early November. I usually work start-to-finish, but this was one of my few UFOs (UnFinished Objects).

I chose Southwest-themed blocks for the quilt: New Mexico and Santa Fe Trail, and added a lot of Diamond in the Square units to fill some of the empty spaces.

Purple fabric - last width-of-fabric piece
Only 1/4" - 1" wide!

Near the end of the quilt, I became nervous that I would run out of the purple fabric. All of the fabrics dated back to 2009 or earlier, and I figured I wouldn't be able to find the exact color. I did a lot of calculating, careful cutting and holding of my breath. After the final width-of-fabric cut, there was a WOF sliver - a mere 1/4" - 1" wide. Talk about cutting (literally) it close!

I want to show the quilt at Saturday's Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild meeting. So I'm going to wait until next week to give the quilt to Cathy, who has known about the quilt along, but who I hope has no idea that the quilt is for her. She is my Facebook friend, and I even blocked her temporarily so she couldn't see what I was doing as I posted my progress. I'm hoping she'll be surprised.

Design notes