A Little Quilt

Finished the smallest size (41″ x 35″) Lombard Street pattern and I’m about to send it to Studio Stitch, where I’ll be teaching the class. The triangles are all dots, though not polka dots!Lombard Street quilt pattern
I quilted this on my home machine, just following the zigzags in the background, and it worked just fine.Lombard Street quilt pattern
And the backing is a fun fabric I found on the sale rack at Studio Stitch last time I taught there! Win!triangle quilt

I’m teaching this as an introduction to modern paper piecing, of which it’s a great example.  Paper piecing makes it easy to get all those nice sharp points, and the arrangement of blocks makes people wonder, “How did she DO that???”  It’s always fun to keep people guessing 🙂

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Pattern Review: Lombard Street

After over a year of dawdling, I have finished my quilt from the beautiful Lombard Street pattern by Sassafras Lane Designs.

Quilt pattern review

“Amish on Lombard Street”, my quilt made from a Sassafras Lane pattern

I rarely use patterns, since I prefer to design my own quilts, but this one caught my eye! The “trick” is that it is paper pieced, which helps all those points come out nice and sharp. The pattern is well written and the instructions are clear.  I had no trouble from that quarter.

I did have trouble when I decided to quilt it myself, and ended up taking out quilting from the entire quilt, then sending it off to my favorite longarm quilter!  She did a great job, and I’m happy to say I had the perfect binding waiting when the quilt came back to me 🙂  Pattern review Lombard Street

And look at that nice angular quilt pattern that reinforces the overall design!

Here’s a picture of the original pattern, courtesy of the Sassafras Lane site:

I haven’t made any of the other patterns from Sassafras Lane, but I was very satisfied with this one, and they certainly have some cheerful and interesting designs. I do recommend checking them out if you like cute modern patterns.

 

Giving Kraft-Tex a (Second) Chance

I made a couple of bags using Kraft-Tex for a sturdy bottom section a while back, and wasn’t that happy with it.  My review is here, if you want to read it.

Kraft-Tex review

Tote bag made with Kraft-Tex for the bottom section

However, when I got some lovely bird fabric in a guild swap, I decided to make another tote bag and use Kraft-Tex to protect the bottom again. I pre-washed the Kraft-Tex to soften it a little, then crumpled it in my hands to soften it a little more.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Since I didn’t really want the thick Kraft-Tex in the seams, the shortage worked out OK

I had BARELY enough for a shorter-than-recommended bottom section, but it worked out fine.  I used the same pattern as before, the Market Tote which is free at Bijou Lovely.

Market Tote from Bijou LovelyAs you can see, I had some beautiful birds-in-the-grass fabric (a Moda print) for the inside.

Kraft-Tex for tote bagI used a buttonhole stitch to secure the top edge of the Kraft-Tex.  Overall, the Kraft-Tex was much easier to use this time.  It makes a sturdy bottom for the bag, is washable, and presumably will wear better than a plain fabric bottom.

As before, the Market Bag tutorial was very well done and easy to follow.  The only change I made was to revise the way the bottom was attached so that I didn’t have Kraft-Tex in the seams; that would have been quite bulky.  I laid the Kraft-Tex on the top fabric and secured the edges with buttonhole stitch just inside the seamline, so it wasn’t necessary to have Kraft-Tex in the seams to hold it in place.  That worked a lot better.

Kraft-Tex for bags

Finished Bird Bag

In other words, I am now revising my opinion of Kraft-Tex and probably will use it for this purpose again!  It still does’t really look like leather to me, but in this case that isn’t the point.

QuiltCon, Anyone?

QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual gathering, will be in Savannah in February 2017, and I am going!mqg-new-logo

I recently read an interesting blog by Becca Fenstermaker about how to deal with a convention when you’re an introvert.  Believe it or not, that would be me, so I plan to use her idea.

Becca’s main suggestion was to start ahead of time and try to find people who will be attending, so you’ll have somebody to visit with when you get there.

Fortunately, there will be several people from at least two of my guilds, but of course the point is meeting new people as well as visiting with old friends.  So if you’re going, please leave me a note in the comments–I’d like to met you!

Meanwhile, I’ve made two more clusters of sweet pea pods.  The pattern is well illustrated and the directions easy to follow 🙂

Hope you have a good week!

A Cute Apron and a Pattern Review

Kitchen apron

Photo courtesy of Indygo Junction

My husband recently discarded some shirts, so I was interested to see this “Kitchen Shirt Tales” pattern from Indygo Junction.

It looked pretty simple, and I’ve made dozens of aprons over the years, but I decided it was worth the money to buy the pattern rather than having to figure it out on my own.  The pattern was downloadable, which added to the appeal–instant gratification!

I was pleased with the way the apron came out, but only because I abandoned the instructions part way through construction.

The instructions were MUCH too complex for a simple garment like this.  For example, rather than providing a pattern for the garment in different sizes (if, indeed, one needs a choice of sizes for an apron), the instructions were to measure yourself and then derive the cutting lines through a rather complex formula. After figuring out these measurements, you were instructed to draw the curve for cutting out the top by connecting the measurements..  I did get it drawn just fine, but  it would have been so much simpler to just have a pattern piece for cutting out the main body of the apron!

As you can see below, the apron looked just fine on two of my colleagues who are different sizes.

At this point, the instructions became confusing and there were VERY few illustrations.  I usually do pretty well with verbal instructions, but the most commercial patterns have a drawing for each step for a reason.

This pattern would need many, many more drawings to be clear.  I quit the instructions at that point and made the rest up as I went along.

I still think it is a great idea to recycle a shirt into an apron, and this is cute the way it came out.  The pattern, however, could be greatly improved by the addition of a pattern piece for cutting and many additional illustrations.

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!

 

 

Pattern Review: Sweetpea Pods

Note: As always, I received NO compensation of any type for this review.

One of the many things I enjoy about attending a quilt show is the opportunity to visit the vendors. Since my nearest “local” quilt shop is about an hour away, I often see things online long before I get to examine them in person. Occasionally I do buy online, but there’s no substitute for looking something over personally before buying.

Pattern review Sweetpea PodsAt the Vermont Quilt Festival, I came across this pattern that I had been considering online because it looked so darn cute.  I talked to the vendor about it to be sure it included instructions for doing that tricky thing with the zipper and learned that it did. She also had the extra zipper pulls that are useful for this design, so I bought the pattern and the zipper pulls.

And here we go:Pods3

This pattern has VERY clear instructions.  I read a fair number of patterns (and write my own), and this is one of the best-written patterns I have seen.

The little pods are easy to make, even with taking time to learn the zipper trick.  The zipper trick actually is easy, and instructions for that are very clear as well.  The pattern is set up so that you get two pods out of each set of instructions, so I cut them out with coordinated fabrics–outside fabric for one pouch was the lining for its mate!  What fun!Sweetpea Pods pattern review

This is so fast and fun that I made several of them.  The instructions say to zig-zag finish the inside seams, but I used my serger for that, so it was even faster!

This was a great break from a rather tedious project I’ve been working on.  I’m giving these to our daughter to use as teacher gifts, but I foresee another round of them for Christmas gifts coming right up!Sweetpea Pod pattern review

You can order the pattern at several places online, or go right to the source at the Lazy Girl Designs website.

My Modern Sampler: Humbug Star

I recently read one of Gwen Marston’s books, and she had directions for a sew-and-flip star.  Like most of modern quilting, this star has been published by multiple people in multiple places, so it’s not new.  However, if you’ve never done sew-and-flip, you can find my tutorial below.  It’s a very fun technique.

flip and sew star

There’s a major flaw here!

So, HUMBUG!  Can you see what I did wrong?  I didn’t see it until I took the picture!  I rarely rip out seams in my improvised blocks, but this was too much for the perfectionist who whispers in my ear much of the time.  So here’s the corrected block:

Sew and flip tutorial

Humbug Star

This block finishes 12″ X 15″.

Here are the links to my other modern sampler blocks so far.

My Own Modern Sampler–It May Take A Year!

The Modern Sampler Continues

Improv Block I

 

And here is the tutorial on the sew-and-flip star.

This project was originally developed for Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.  You can read about it here.

Unfinished block size 15″ x 15″

modern star block

This block finishes 14-1/2 x 14 1/2 inches

Fabric Requirements

modern quilt fabric

Fabrics supplied by Michael Miller Fabrics

Background fabric 16 1/2″ x 16 1/2″

Star center fabric 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

Eight solid fabrics for star rays, each 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″

Piecing Instructions

Note: all seam allowances are 1/4″.

  1. Cut the background fabric into a 9-patch of 5-1/2 inch squares as shownCutting Diagram
  2. Remove the center square and replace it with a 5-1/2 inch square of your center fabric

    Center square surrounded by background squares

    Center square surrounded by background squares

  3. For star rays, build 2 rays on each of 4 background squares as follows:
  • Lay the one 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ piece of solid fabric on a 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ square of the background as shown.   Place pins approximately where the 1/4″ seam will be along the long edge of the ray and turn along the pins to check placement.  Diagram-3-web Adjust if needed to make a star ray that suits you and to completely cover the foundation piece where the star ray will be.  Note that you will need to have your ray end at least 1/4″ from the edge if you want to see the point.  However, if you want blunt points there’s nothing wrong with that!  Here’s an example:Blunt point example
  • Reposition the pins and stitch 1/4″ from the edge of the ray as shown below:Diagram-5-web
  • Remove pins, turn the ray back into place, and press. Trim the side and bottom edges of the ray even with the foundation fabric.  Do not remove the foundation fabric under the ray, as it helps keep everything square and stable.Diagram-4-web
  • Place the fabric for the second ray, pin and test position, then stitch, press, and trim as for the first ray.Diagram-6-web Note that the rays need to overlap at least 1/4″ away from the raw edge where this section will join the star center. It’s fine to overlap more than that.

    Diagram-7-web

    Press the second ray and trim to match the background block.

  1. After building 4 sets of 2 star rays, re-assemble the 9-patch with the plain corners, printed center, and colored rays.

    modern star block

    This block finishes 14-1/2 x 14 1/2 inches

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! 😉

 

Two Favorite Quilt Patterns

I love designing quilts and making my own designs, but I also enjoy making quilts from outstanding designs by other people.  I thought I’d list a couple of my favorites, and I hope you’ll let me know (in the comments) what some of your favorites are, too.

star quilt

A floral quilt made from Lucky Stars by Atkinson Designs

A favorite quilt pattern for me should be striking in appearance, should have foolproof instructions [because I certainly could be a fool on any given day ;-)], and should be something that makes me say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”

Lucky Stars by Atkinson Designs.  This is the first quilt pattern I ever bought, though far from the first quilt I made.  When I started quilting, I just decided what I wanted, drafted the pattern,and then made it.  Buying this pattern was a revelation!  Such great instructions!  Such great results!  And so little effort compared to what I’d been doing!  I’ve made this pattern several times, and the recipients have loved every one of these quilts.  I’ve also used this to teach “Make Your Second Quilt” for advanced beginners, and the students loved it, too.

I LOVE any quilt with concentric boxes, and having them in multiple sizes and bright colors is just the BEST!  This quilt pattern is Outside the Box, by Rose Mason.  I put 4 of these together to make a queen quilt for a friend’s daughter when she got married, and it worked out really well.

Outside the Box, pattern by Rose Mason

Outside the Box, pattern by Rose Mason

 And even that didn’t wear me out on concentric boxes!  I’ve made many more, both from patterns and my own designs. 

Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite patterns are, and I’ll pass along the love in a later post.

Happy Plaids is my own design, but there are MANY similar quilts out there

Happy Plaids is my own design, but there are MANY similar quilts out there