Straight Pins: A Brief Review

I’ve used the same straight pins for years because they are smooth, sharp, and a little flexible, with glass heads that don’t melt if you happen to iron over them.  Pins are very important in quilting!  ( As always, I do NOT get payment or product for this review; I’m telling you about these pins because I use them.)

These pins used to come from the Clotilde catalog (IBC stands for “Imported by Clotilde”), but that business was sold to Annie’s Catalog a few years ago.

Recently when I ordered pins I noticed that Dritz also makes silk pins, and they were just a tad cheaper.  I decided to try them.  Here are both boxes of pins:

Those are the Dritz pins on the left, the IBC pins on the right.

The Dritz pins came in a nicer box than the pins from Annie’s.  They might even be better pins if I were sewing on thin, lightweight fabric.  However, they were thinner and even more flexible than the IBC pins, and that made them actually difficult to get through quilting cotton!

There is a larger IBC straight pin for quilting, 1-3/4 inches long!

I don’t like the size of these larger pins, but I expect that for some projects they would be better. For now, I’m sticking with my regular IBC pins.

Any other suggestions for great quilting straight pins?

 

A Practice Piece

So, while I was on a Jane-Sassaman-fabric kick, I got this piece to use for practice.

Sassaman fabric

Flower Fiesta by Jane Sassaman

And I cut it up into triangles and made this top.  This was just for practice, so I sewed it together all the way and added borders of another Sassaman fabric.

one block wonder quilt

This practice quilt is 54″ square

I think I like the print borders better than the solid black I was trying out on the “real” Sassaman quilt I blogged about last week.  This practice one is about 54″ square.

Meanwhile, my friend Jean suggested I look at quilts by Bruce Seeds.  He doesn’t distribute the blocks randomly as suggested in the One Block Wonder books, he uses them to make a big design (from all the blocks with fancy little designs).  Check out his quilts here:  BruceSeeds.com.  They are terrific!  He has used little strips of fabric to outline parts of quilts, as I was thinking about doing. And he’s obviously used more than one fabric in some quilts.  I’m definitely going to study his quilts more before I decide on a final design for mine.

Thanks to Jean for the great suggestion!

Pamela Wiley Quilts in Savannah

While in Savannah for QuiltCon, my husband and I happened on an exhibit of quilts by Pamela Wiley, a professor emerita of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).  I’m sorry I missed her class at QuiltCon, but the exhibition of her quilts was terrific!

SCAD, Pamela Wiley quilt

As Above So Below, by Pamela Wiley

Pamela Wiley’s quilts are stretched tight and framed, so that when we looked in from the street we were not sure at first whether we were looking at paintings or quilts.  Once in the gallery, it was apparent that these were real quilts.

Pamela Wiley quilts

Mineralogie by Pamela Wiley

Little information was given about the materials used; each label simply listed “stitched cotton”.  However, the stitching was used to distort the cotton, not just in the usual way by making raised and depressed areas with stitching and batting, but also by slightly moving printed lines so that the surface appeared warped.

Pamela Wiley art quilt

Detail of Outside In, by Pamela Wiley

Stitching was used to add layers of color and to distort commercially printed fabric in ways that fooled the eye.

art quilt, Pamela Wiley quilt

Outside In by Pamela Wiley

I took a number of pictures, with permission of the guard for the exhibit.  If you want more, there is an article about her work in what I call “art school language” here, and many pictures of details of her quilts on Instagram here.  I’ll be looking for quilt shows where she may teach in the future!

Pamela Wiley quilt

Houndstooth Hurdy Gurdy by Pamela Wiley

art quilt, Pamela Wiley

Detail of Houndstooth Hurdy Gurdy by Pamela Wiley

Pamela Wiley quilt

Detail of Houndstooth Hurdy Gurdy by Pamela Wiley

Pamela Wiley art quilt

detail of Holding Space by Pamela Wiley

Pamela Wiley

Holding Space by Pamela Wiley

Pamela Wiley art quilt

Full Circle by Pamela Wiley

art quilt

Detail of Full Circle by Pamela Wiley

Pamela Wiley

Detail of Full Circle by Pamela Wiley

Oh, and if you aren’t already intimidated, let me tell you that all these quilts were dated 2016!!!

Tech Shirts in a T Shirt Quilt

I’m making a T shirt quilt for a friend, so she sent a large sack of T shirts to be used.
This friend and her future husband are both very athletic, so many of those T shirts are tech shirts–meaning they are 100% polyester knit!

I searched the internet for specific instructions for using polyester T shirts in a quilt and found NOTHING useful. So, here’s how I solved the problem, and I expect it will work for you, too.

The blocks for T shirt quilts are backed with fusible interfacing to stabilize the knit fabric. I buy lightweight interfacing so the quilt will drape well. A while back, I bought a bolt of Pellon 906F for that purpose. It is very lightweight and is intended to be used with semi-sheer fabrics, so it bonds at a relatively low temperature–very important for polyester T shirts!Polyester T shirts in a quiltAs you can see, the 906F is lightweight and thin.  It fuses just fine at a temperature between the silk and wool settings on my iron. That setting requires only a few seconds to fuse, so there is no damage to the polyester shirts! Score!

This interfacing is working fine with the 100% cotton shirts as well. All that’s needed is a backing that keeps the T shirt from stretching as it is sewn and quilted, and this does the job.Tech shirts in a T shirt quilt

Here’s a look at some of the quilt blocks, waiting for final arrangement on the design wall.  My husband came along and said, “How did you get T shirts so flat?”  The answer, of course, is the backing 🙂

I’ll have a picture of the finished quilt as well as more information about it in a few weeks. Meanwhile, be warned: another friend who requested a T shirt quilt ended up making it herself (with my help)!

QuiltCon Charity Quilt

The Modern Quilt Guild of Franklin (NC) has been working on this quilt designed by Sarah Overton of My Crowded Nest.  It is paper-pieced octagons,and the paper piecing certainly has helped it go together more smoothly with so many different people working on it.franklin-quilt-1

Several people took papers and fabric home to do a row at first, then we all met several times to put the rows together.franklin-quilt-3

We were working from a plan, but color placement was still a challenge!franklin-quilt-4

Of course the colors were chosen by the national MQG, but we added a few prints to liven things up.franklin-quilt-2

And finally, the top is done!franklin-quilt-6

It’s going to be quilted by Andrea Walker, so I’ll be sure to show a picture of the final quilt when it’s done.  After QuiltCon, it will be donated to our local hospice.

Guild Challenges, Part I

When I volunteered to arrange programs for one of my modern guilds this year, I didn’t realize the job included coming up with a challenge each month.  Luckily, there were lots of ideas for guild challenges in internet-world, so the challenges weren’t too much of a challenge.  (Sorry, that just slipped in!)

I thought it might be helpful to other modern guilds if I posted our proposed challenges, since I’m sure other folks are in need of ideas, too.  So here’s the first one: slabs.  If you don’t know what a slab quilt block is, Canadian quilter Cheryl Arkison published the idea in her book Sunday Morning Quilts.  You can see a picture and instructions here.

modern quilt challenge

Slabs can be addictive!  And a quilt of many colors is fun.

In January, each member received brief instructions on how to make a “slab” of a single color of the rainbow.  Sort of.  While trying to figure out how to set up the rainbow challenge, I found this quote from Isaac Asimov (one of my heroes):

It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.

So our colors for the challenge are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.  Seems like the main value of indigo and violet is that they let us spell out ROY G BIV.  Huh.

Our slabs are 15-1/2 inches square, to be 15 inch finished blocks.  Each person makes one in her assigned color, then can make as many others as she wants in as many of the six basic colors as she wants.  At the next meeting, we’ll put all our slabs in a pile and each person’s name will go in a basket once for each block she turns in.  Then we’ll draw a name and somebody gets all the blocks.  Of course she’s expected to make something wonderful with those blocks before the next meeting!

I e-mailed examples of slab quilts to guild members as part of the challenge and also took some of my quilts to show.

slab quilt

Jerri Szlizewski combined her purple slabs with neutral slabs, then appliqued purple dots on the neutral backgrounds

Improvised slab quilt

I cut up the yellow-orange slabs I got in a swap and inserted blue

Does your modern guild have some great challenge ideas?  Let me know!  I’ll be posting about our other challenges as we go along so you can use them, too.

 

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!

Slabs, Round 2

Cheryl Arkison is one of several people to suggest putting together scraps of the same color to make a quilt block (or fabric from which to cut quilt pieces).  Cheryl calls hers “slabs” and makes them big–15 inches square finished.Mary J Puckett quilt

Above is the quilt I made from a slab swap with one of my quilt groups a couple of years ago.  I had asked for slabs made from the yellow/orange family, and I loved what I got.  But I’m not one to leave well enough alone, so I cut them up and made the quilt shown above.

A relative-who-will-remain-nameless looked through my quilts online and asked for something similar, but in a larger size.

I’ve had fun collecting orange and yellow fabrics.  My friend Linda donated a large bag of orange “scraps”; I felt free to ask her since she claims to hate orange 😀  Then she brought me a big cut of solid orange to go with the scraps!

slab quilt

Linda even found an orange patterned bag to put her scraps in!

The rest came from my stash and from a few things I bought while travelling.  I improvised the squares, featuring a few funky fabrics in each one from the fabrics I bought especially for this quilt.

Then I used Moda Bella Amelia Blue to sash each square and cut the sashing so they are all wonky.  Each will finish 18″ square with sashing.orange4

This one will be big enough that it will need to go to the long-arm quilter.  I’ll have more pictures when it’s finished.

Meanwhile, how are those holiday projects coming along?

 

Two Quilts, 3 Reviews, 4 “Learning Experiences”

“Wow!” my husband said, as he watched me taking quilting stitches out with my new skin4electric seam ripper.  And his is an informed opinion, since he has seen PLENTY of seam ripping over the years between my adventures and those of his 3 sisters.

So here’s the story:  I designed a quilt made of all equilateral triangles, in all solid colors, several years ago.  It was one of those projects that looked better in my head than in reality, so I backed up and started again.  (Learning experience #1: this design stinks.)

The Lombard Street pattern by Sassafras Lane caught my eye, so I ordered it, thinking I probably could re-cut my blocks to work.  When the pattern arrived, it was just as beautiful as it looked online, and the block size was such that I could, indeed, salvage my fabric. But it is paper pieced–not my favorite technique.  (Learning experience #2: check the construction method before ordering!)

In any case, I got the top made and was pleased with the result

modern quilt

The pattern is Lombard Street, by Sassafras Lane Designs.  The blocks are on my design wall.

Review #1:  the Lombard Street pattern had excellent instructions, and came out just as great in person as it looked on the pattern.

I layered the quilt with Quilter’s Dream bamboo batting.  Review #2:  The batting felt just wonderful, soft and with a good drape.  But OH MY did it make a mess of the black fabric!  I don’t know how, but it kept giving off lint that completely covered the quilt top.  I LOVE Quilter’s Dream batting and use both the poly or the cotton request loft almost exclusively. But this bamboo!  Yikes!  My trusty lint roller fixed that.  Several times.  (Learning experience #3: I won’t use bamboo batting again.)

It’s a long story, but after several trials, I decided to use Metrosene poly quilting thread in dark grey, thinking it would blend in with all the fabrics.  This strategy has worked well on several other quilts, but not so much this time.  I didn’t like the way it looked–when I had the quilting 80% done!!!  (Learning experience #4: stubbornness isn’t always a virtue.  Sometimes sticking with the task is not the best option 😀Review: Lombard Street pattern

Enter the electric seam ripper.  I went online and researched just HOW other people had gotten the quilt stitches out of quilts in similar situations.  I read about 3 different electric seam rippers and watched demos on You Tube.  I purchased one, put in a AA battery, and got to work.Review: electric seam ripper

By the way, removing the backing from a quilt this way, in order to remove the quilting stitches, is called “skinning the quilt” according to my online research.

Review #3:  The electric seam ripper worked amazingly well!!!  I had the entire top un-quilted by 1 p.m., and I did two loads of laundry, made breakfast and lunch, and put dinner in the crock pot besides!  I had to use a traditional seam ripper where I had made tiny stitches at the sharp corners, but otherwise it went very fast.  The only holes created were a tiny hole in the batting made with my traditional seam ripper, and a tiny hole in the backing made by the electric seam ripper when I tried to insist that it cut through those very close stitches (it just said no).electric seam ripper

The discussions online reported being able to lift the top quilting thread off in one long piece.  As you see, that didn’t work for me–maybe when I’ve had more practice?  (Oh please, no more practice!)  Anyway, the trusty lint roller saved me again.

And this top is going to a long-arm quilter.  Done!

 

 

Next Scrap Project

I mentioned I’m doing a Lego Quilt, based on instructions from Tonya Ricucci.  I am lucky to have changed to a 4-day-a-week job, so I spent my first Friday off getting all the strips done.  I put them up on the design wall as I pieced them to be sure I was getting a good balance of colors and values.

lego quilt

Strips on my design wall

Tonya’s instructions say to cut 1-1/2″ strips and join them to make the rows in each block.  I have a lot of strips, sorted by width, so I tried the 1-1/2″ strips first, joining them end-to-end and cutting into the lengths I needed.scrap quilt, strip quilt

That was tedious, to say the least. I switched to using wider strips, joining them lengthwise, and cutting 1-1/2″ strips from the sets.lego-3

lego-4Now I have 420 strips, enough to make my 42 blocks (finishing 10″ each) for a 60″ x 70″ quilt.  This will be my next leaders-and-enders project.  Here are all the strips laid out ready to go!  scrap quiltStay tuned!  I think it will be fun to see it come together!