One Quilt, Two Lessons

Check out these fabrics!

Fat quarter bundle

Alison Glass Handprint fabric and neutral linen

A friend gave me the FQ (fat quarter) bundle of lovely Alison Glass handprint fabric and I combined it with a neutral linen fabric I’d been saving for something special. I started with Karla Alexander’s instructions for a quilt, but (as my friends all know) I never really follow instructions so it diverged…improvised modern quilt blocks

The blocks were lots of fun to make.  I followed the instructions for a while, then started cutting the blocks up and inserting strips.  Then decided NOT to trim all the blocks to one size.  I adjusted the sizes of the linen sashing so that all the rows came out the same length, and made the rows of different heights to allow for the different block sizes.

And I slashed the sashing and inserted some strips in that, too.

When I had the top all made, I basted it with spray basting as usual.  BUT I didn’t have enough of the first can.  Then the SECOND can was a different brand and almost empty as well!

Determined to get the doggone thing basted, I resorted to some spray-on stuff that was supposed to bond the fabric to the batting when I ironed it.  This last stuff left SPOTS on the handprint fabric, which is light weight (almost like voile).  YIKES!

Lesson 1:  Be patient until you can get to the store for a can of basting spray.

Finally (after buying basting spray) it was basted and I started quilting.  Enter Lesson 2: this linen is a loose weave of large fibers and doesn’t play well with a tight weave of small fibers. YIKES AGAIN!  No matter how I changed the pressure on the quilting foot or otherwise fiddled with it, the quilting distorted the top and the backing.

improvised modern quilt

The finished quilt

Now it’s finished and I like it.  I appreciate the texture of the linen, but I’m not sure I’ll use it again.  I took this to my last modern guild meeting and people were positive about it, but one of the more experience sewists told me linen is usually stretchy, so at least it’s not just me!

improvisational quilting

Here’s the quilt back–that column was straight when I started!

Well, I try to learn something new every day, so I’m calling this a SUCCESS! 😉

 

Advertisements

Leaders and Enders–Have You Heard?

One of the best things about the blogosphere is that I get tips all the time from other quilters.

I recently learned from Melissa at Happy Quilting how I can be piecing two projects at once!  What could be better?

I’ve always used scraps for starting and ending a series of chain piecing because that gives me all the pieces at once, still without having to cut off thread tails.

The scraps used to start and end sections of chain piecing end up looking like this--pretty ratty!

The scraps used to start and end sections of chain piecing end up looking like this–pretty ratty!

Here’s an explanation of chain piecing in case you aren’t familiar with it.

To piece a second top as “leaders and enders” instead of using scraps to chain piece, I figured it had to be a SIMPLE top or I’d end up confusing things for sure!  So when one of my quilt groups decided to exchange improvised blocks (sometimes called slabs if they’re all one color), it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make the slabs while working on something else.

Improvisational piecing

This is a pile of scraps..

I’m piecing slabs from scraps and they’re improvisational, so there ARE no mistakes, only opportunities for further improvisation!  Woo-hoo!

Improvised quilt block

And this is a block improvised from scraps and cut to size!

SO, while piecing the tops I wanted to consider for the Quilt Alliance challenge…

I also pieced several improvisational slabs for friends.

Improvised blocks

Blocks improvised from scraps

Win-win!  And most importantly, it was FUN 🙂

Review: Kraft-Tex for Bags

I’ve had my eye on Kraft-Tex for some time. It’s a paper product made by C&T

Kraft-Tex review

Kraft-Tex, made by C&T but sold many places

and advertised to sew and wash like fabric but look like leather.  As I’ve probably said before, I’ll try almost anything once 🙂  (And just for the record, I purchased the material used for this project and this review is entirely my own opinion.)

I decided to use Kraft-Tex as the bottom of a tote bag.  There was a helpful video on You Tube (of course!) showing how to use it and showing what it looked like both washed and unwashed.  Because I didn’t want to wash the drapery fabric I was using for the bag, I didn’t wash the Kraft-Tex.

The Kraft-Tex was very stiff right out of the package, so I wadded it up hoping to soften it a little before folding it to make the bag bottom.  I didn’t really need to do that; it folded and sewed very nicely.  It remained extremely stiff but was not at all difficult to stitch with my Bernina, even when it came to sewing through 4 layers as I boxed the bottom of the bag.

Kraft-Tex review

Tote bag made with Kraft-Tex for the bottom section

When I got it all put together it provided a nice substantial bottom for the bag, as I had hoped.  It did not even THINK about tearing like paper when I was working with it. However, I really think it LOOKS like a brown paper bag rather than “like leather” as advertised.  Maybe that’s just because I used it to make a bag.  As you can see from this detail, it did stitch very nicely.

Kraft-Tex bag

Detail of Kraft-Tex and Drapery Fabric Bag

However, the claim that Kraft-Tex “handles like fabric” was absolutely untrue!  It was so stiff that I decided to wash what remained along with the rest of the drapery fabric.  Both washed and dried well on gentle cycle, and the Kraft-Tex was slightly softer after washing. It didn’t handle any more like fabric, though–turning that stiff outer bag through the opening left in the lining for that purpose was “challenging”!

Here’s the second bag, made with washed Kraft-Tex.  Sure enough, it looks the same after washing.  I quilted the upper part of the bag, which gave it more substance than the previous one, so it went better with the stiff Kraft-Tex bottom.

Kraft-Tex review

Bag made after washing the Kraft-Tex and fabric

The pattern I used for this bag was free at Bijou Lovely and was very well written and illustrated.  I’ll probably make the bag again, but I’ll find another use for the Kraft-Tex!

 

4 Quilt Tops–Help Me Choose!

The theme of the Quilt Alliance challenge this year is “Animals We Love”.  It gave me a hard time–I tried for weeks to think of something–then all of a sudden I had more ideas than I knew what to do with!  So here are 4 tops I’ve made, and I need to decide which one to submit.  Please tell me which you think is best!  It may help if you’ll tell me why you like it as well (or why you hate it).  All are 16 inches square, which is a requirement of the challenge.

#1: Cat Circus was designed using EQ7 and made using templates.modern quilt block

#2: Barnyard Whirl was cut freehand.  The black fabric is printed with animal sounds.  (Why do we teach little children to make animal sounds, anyway?  Oops, a digression!)Modern quilt block

#3: We Love Clams will have a thread-sketched cartoon clam (presumably looking worried about all that love) as a focal point when I quilt it.Modern Clamshell Quilt

#4: Untitled (feel free to suggest a title) again with the animal-sounds black fabric.Modern QuiltAnd that’s it!  Yes, I made 4 quilt tops!  Please help me choose one.