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Archive for the ‘Machine Quilting’ Category

My designs for my puzzle pieces began as sketches as part of an online quilting class I took called Inspired to Design with Elizabeth Barton. One of the main lessons I learned in the class is to make your pattern sketches without judgement, and make a lot of them! In various exercises, Elizabeth would encourage us to draw at least a dozen, if not more, sketches that we would then choose from a final design.

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On the left, you can see a black and white print out of one of my designs from the class. That particular lesson was playing with positive and negative space, cutting out shapes from paper and re-arranging them to make patterns. I liked the pattern I made but felt it needed a bit more transforming to be a part of this group quilt. So taking Elizabeth’s technique to heart, I drew MANY more sketches from the original inspiration. In this process of making many sketches I started to be drawn to squiggly lines and floating circles.

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Putting my block together, I started with the floating circles. One of the fabrics we had in our fabric pull to use for our puzzle pieces was this fantastic green and blue circle design! I cut out individual circles and arranged them in a random cascading pattern.

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Next were my squiggly lines. I chose two of the bright blue fabrics in our fabric set, and randomly cut wavy squiggly curvy lines. Between each set of stacked circles I layered around two to three squiggly lines.

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The design was quite lovely at this point, but I hadn’t yet used any of our maroon or red fabrics in the design. I thought a little bit of a color pop would be important to tie the block in with the other blocks, so I cut a few circles out of the bright fabric and layered them behind the cascading circles.

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For my second color piece, I deviated wildly from my original paper cut-out sketch (seen far left). I think this is a great example of how continually making sketch after sketch without judgement lets you discover new ideas you didn’t realize you had. As I sketched, I was drawn to the idea of interlocking circles that create depth and motion.

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This block was a bit more difficult to pull off. Well, I made it easy one way because I was free-hand cutting the circles, and didn’t mind a bit of wonkiness. Rather, the difficulty was because I ran out of fusible webbing, and it being a Sunday I had no quilt shop open to purchase more. This was my day to complete it though, so I forged ahead, knowing I could glue down the design instead of fuse. However, this made all the pieces very loose and wobbly as I tried to place them, and made it take twice as long to glue each little piece!

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It had been ages since I free-motion quilted, and I felt a bit rusty at first to start. However, those pesky deadlines were looming again, so I forged ahead to complete it. The stitching and design isn’t as fine or detailed as I imagined in my head, but I got it done. We have a saying at work right now, “do and be done.” I have been swamped with projects and deadlines, and often times find myself only able to complete something as well as I can in that moment, instead of having the time to finesse, re-do and make perfect. I think it is good to have time to make something as good as you can, but I think it can also be good to complete something in the time you have available and move on, for it is better to be completed than not done at all. So in that spirit, I completed my puzzle pieces, and they are good enough, and will join our Puzzlement quilt for everyone to enjoy.

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Click here to see my post on our group process of making Puzzlement and you can see the quilt in person at our bi-annual guild show, May 28-29 at the Methodist Church in Bishop from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sunday.

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I have often found inspiration from Pinterest. This time, it was this braided strip quilt. I was attracted to the simple geometry, and thought my hand dyed fabrics would be a natural complement to the simple design.

IMG_2272I was also intrigued by the interesting construction. You start with cutting a triangle, and then sewing stripes to each edge of the triangle. I was attracted by the notion of no measuring, just cutting strips and sewing.

IMG_2274The quilt quickly grew, with 4 1/2 inch stripes. I was also inspired by Gee’s Bend quilts, and didn’t want to worry too much about if I had enough fabric of each color. For each stripe, I’d pick a color, and if I didn’t have enough for the stripe, I’d try to pick a similar color and finish the stripe so it was long enough. The color shifts are so imperceptible you can barely catch them, but if you look closely they are there.

IMG_2290After basting the three layers, I began to quilt. I wanted to emphasize the stripey braided shape, so I chose to simply follow the stripes in multiple rows of stitches.

IMG_2418I wanted the stitching to be playful, so I switched colors for each row, and ultimately ended up doing four stripes of stitches, in varying distances from each other.

IMG_2448Rummaging through my dyed fabrics, this bright berry color popped out at me, and I thought it was be a electric complement as the binding next to the mostly neutral colored fabrics of the quilt. Last night I finished sewing the binding on, washed the quilt this morning, and it is done!

IMG_8420The front. I was somewhat surprised by the look. I have a very small house and sewing area, and hadn’t been able to see the whole quilt during the piecing phase. I was pretty much selecting colors randomly, but I think the balance and look came out nice!

IMG_8432I like the place on the quilt where the braids come together into a v.

IMG_8418I emphasized this v with the quilting, making the v connect the colors of the two different stripes to make the v.

IMG_8416The shocking berry color next to the colors of the quilt.

IMG_8441I love how it makes the other colors pop!

IMG_8440For the back, I pieced together various pieces of dyed fabrics I had. The long narrow stripe was leftover pieces from the front that were trimmed off the edges.

IMG_8438The back shows off the quilting pattern and thread colors.

IMG_8439In some ways, I think the back is almost a quilt in itself! Maybe this is a two sided quilt!

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You might remember last June we had a baby shower for my friend Kim. I posted on the paper garlands I stitched as decoration for the shower. One of our activities was also to personalize quilt squares for June, which I planned to later sew up into a quilt. This was my second of such quilts, they are so fun to make!

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I had pre-cut flannel fabric squares in various colors, and had drawn borders on each square to give folks a guide for writing and drawing their message for June within the seam limits. Kim had two baby showers, and brought her squares to both, and also distributed to various friends and families, until we had a large stack of quilt squares!

IMG_8129In May, I visited with Kim and baby June (already 8 months old!). June was a big help laying out the squares.

IMG_8131I think she loved the feel and colors of the squares. Maybe she’ll be a quilter too, like her mom and grandma!

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Kim also got to make a square, for the center, with June’s name, date of birth, time and weight.

IMG_8136There was so much love for June, the blanket quickly reached full size with just the squares. We played around with laying out of fun arrangement of random colors.

IMG_8137With both of our machines stitching, and June keeping us company, the quilt top quickly was pieced.

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That afternoon, I basted the three layers and began quilting. I opted for the walking foot, with just simple quilting around the edges of each block.

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It was such a pleasure to read each message as I quilted. The love for June absolutely shines from the quilt! The flannel fabric was hard to work with, the fabric is pretty stretchy, and my squares quickly became pretty wonky. Luckily, there was so much love and color in the quilt, my funky stitching kind of just disappeared!

IMG_2264For a binding, I chose a bright yellow, to be a bright pop of color against the pretty blues, greens and pinks that made up the majority of the quilt.

IMG_8150The backing fabric was a cute flannel pattern, of zoo animals. Doesn’t it look cute with the yellow?

IMG_8148After running it through the washing machine to erase the marker lines, the quilt got a cozy, snuggly, slightly wrinkled look. Perfect.

IMG_8146Here’s a few close-ups of the cute and heartfelt messages to June. The fabric pens did fade slightly after washing, but not too bad.

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May the quilt wrap June in all the love of this world she is going to grow up in!

IMG_8142I’m hoping the quilt gets dragged from room to room, inside and outside, made into forts, used as a table for tea parties, snuggled with at night, washed a million times, and loved until it is threadbare. I hope you enjoy it June!

 

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My mountain quilt panel was to the point where it was time to quilt! I eagerly sat down at my Kenmore machine, switched to my darning foot, dropped the feed dogs, and prepared to have fun. Ugh. Every few minutes my machine would sieze up, the needle would get stuck in the down position, and the only way I could figure to get unstuck would be each time to completely take apart the bobbin machinery, then put it all together again, start again and then a few minutes later . . . jam!

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Then I had this light bulb moment of, maybe I need a different machine! For years I’ve quilted on my Kenmore, inherited from my great-aunt Clarkia. It is a workhorse, solid metal, and has served me beautifully for all these years. But suddenly it hit me, that maybe I was pushing the machine too hard, and there is a different machine that would meet what I want it to accomplish better.

I started to call my quilter friends. And something surprising emerged: they all have Brother 1500 quilting machines! I read reviews online, spoke with my friends, and got the impression it was exactly the machine I was imagining: simple and functional for piecing and quilting quilts.

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My quilter friend Margaret now quilts on her Bernina, but had a Brother 1500 originally, and generously brought the machine by my house to lend it to me so I could give it a try! Here’s my first swatch when I gave the machine my first try. It was a breeze! A gentle humming sound and I easily stitched patterns. I felt the world of possibility open up.

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Last weekend I eagerly cleared my Saturday of obligations, and began to quilt my mountain panel quilt. Margaret had given me some tips on how to do the sky, that in landscapes, put lines closer together towards the horizon and further apart as you got towards the top. It did take a bit of courage as I made my first stitches!

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I first sketched my lines with chalk, to get a feel for what my intended stitching might look like. This was a helpful technique, as I could erase and redraw until I liked what I saw, and then when I stitched I could follow my lines. I had fun following the pattern in the hand dyed fabric, outlining the white clouds and emphasizing the stormy purple and blue.

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My courage served me well, and the sky came together beautifully, and I continued on to the mountains. I had a brief side trip to purchase more thread at the craft store mid-afternoon, as I didn’t have any colors that matched what I wanted for my mountains. Again, I sketched the lines with chalk, and then stitched them with thread.

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I chose a kind of topographic echoing repeating line pattern to emphasize the shape and flow of the mountains. I echoed but also made it random, giving it a realistic look. I wanted my snow patches to stand out, so I stitched around them with the mountain color, and then came back with white thread and stitched the white snow patches down.

And there is the top third! I was able to achieve more detail and control with the new machine. I can’t wait to continue quilting the rest! But wait, can you see in the photograph, it is white below the mountains. It’s true, I tore apart my entire bottom two-thirds of the panel. I removed all the quilting and took my light green fabrics off. This weekend I’ll reassemble it, and it shouldn’t take too long. I’ve selected the colors for the background fabric, and then will put back on top the tree trunk, leaves, bushes etc. And then I’ll quilt!

{This post is part of a series. To see other posts in this series, please click here}

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As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoyed the new technique I learned using half square triangles. I also was really in love with the last batch of fabric I dyed. So practically before one quilt was finished, I started another. I started by laying out a gradation of colors. I wanted one color to blend to another, slowly changing across the quilt. I cut a lot of squares, and sewed them together.

IMG_1217-2Then like before, each square gets cut into four squares, and pressed into triangle squares. I used little scraps of paper to keep track of rows, with notes on which color went where.

IMG_1219-2I then would take a row of pieced squares, iron them flat, then pin them on my design board in the pattern of the chevron. It seemed like an extra step, but it was helpful to really make sure I pieced them in the correct pattern. After putting them up on my design wall, I took them down re-grouped as pairs to seam together.

IMG_1223-2Then I’d iron those, put back up on the design wall, make sure the pattern was correct, I would take them down again, re-grouped as a new pair, and seam again . . .

IMG_1225-2Then once strips were sewn, I’d sew the strips together, start with a new row, and continue on. Since I had set the color pattern to start with, piecing was a mindless task that was really enjoyable. I could sit down for ten minutes or an hour, pick up wherever I had left off, sew a bit, then leave it where I was, to come back later and continue.

img 2Once the quilt top was pieced, I lay it out and basted together. I used my walking foot again, to quilt it, echoing the chevron pattern with simple straight lines on either side of each seam.

img 1At this point, I was working on the quilt every second I could squeeze in. Our county fair was weeks away, and completely last minute I decided to enter this quilt as well. As the date for the drop-off approached, I began to sew on my lunch break, after dinner, late into the night . . . The night before quilt entries were due, I was sewing on the binding, and hand stitching it down.

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The autumn evenings here are turning cold, while the cottonwood trees in the valley are turning a brilliant orange. This is such a beautiful time of year. I couldn’t resist taking the quilt aside and capturing it with some of the fall color. Thanks Kim for helping with the photo shoot!

IMG_6758The quilt received a second place at the fair! It is a lap quilt or baby quilt size. As soon as I get my etsy shop open, I’m thinking I’ll sell it there. Would you like to have a quilt like this to curl up under on a cold winter evening?

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Browsing on Pinterest last week, I came across half square triangles. I didn’t know about them. In fact, I pieced an entire half square triangle quilt without knowing about them. I was floored. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to try it. I immediately started pinning every half square triangle quilt I could find. The possibilities were endless. Such a simple geometric shape that could become a myriad of stunning designs. And my hand dyed fabric would provide a perfect foundation for such designs. Without a moment of hesitation, I pulled out my recently dyed fabrics and separated them into dark and light values.

IMG_6266Then I cut each color into a square. I used this handy dandy chart I found to help me pick my size: 5 1/2″.

IMG_6269Then I randomly paired each dark square with a light square, and sewed 1/4″ all the way around, yes, every single side. This blog gives a good description and tutorial.

IMG_6272Each square pair then gets sliced into four triangles, by cutting a line from corner to corner twice.

IMG_6273The slicing and chopping went quickly, and pretty soon I had a sweet little pile of pieced triangles.

IMG_6274I pressed open each triangle square, and lay them out on my work table in a pattern (that I also found on Pinterest!).

IMG_6275And then the piecing began. One square to another. Two squares to two squares. Row to row. Like the tutorial mentioned, the bias in the triangles actually helps, and it was quite easy to push and pull a bit to get each square edges to line up.

IMG_6279The repetition was pleasing. The colors were calming to work with. Seeing the design come together was thrilling.

IMG_6280And then that sweet moment when it is all pieced, the last seam is pressed, and the quilt top is flipped over to admire.

IMG_6282Next, quilting! I put together my quilt sandwich of batting and backing. I decided I wanted to simply follow the piecing lines, accenting the stripes on the diagonal. I chose a light gray to use on the light stripes, and a dark brown to use on the dark stripes.

IMG_6283I recently purchased a walking foot for my sewing machine, and was eager to give it a try. I must say, it worked like a dream! The quilt was quilted in seconds flat.

IMG_6289Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my oh my what a wonderful day.

IMG_6292Quilted! And then bound.

IMG_6294Here’s one more shot!

IMG_6302Our quilt guild had their annual picnic last Tuesday. Each picnic there is a challenge, to make a quilt using a certain limitation. This year the challenge was to use solids. Perfect!

IMG_2618About ten ladies or so entered the challenge, with everything from quilted bags and more.

IMG_2613We each talked to the guild about what we made and how we made it.

IMG_2625It was a lovely picnic, complete with summer monsoon rain, good food, and friendly faces.

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Perhaps the little half square quilt will go to the fair next!

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Quilting on Grace’s baby quilt continues. A little bit here and there. I found the most perfect quilting pattern, dogwood, here. I think this matches the theme of earthy and Grace perfectly. Will I be done in time for the baby shower? We’ll see!

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