Done is better than perfect

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After more than two years, my red and white Xs quilt is finally done!  It waited in its box for a long, long time before getting quilted.

The background is all loops, really the only free motion pattern I can manage over wide areas.  But I did try some new quilting patterns inside the Xs.  I gave up quickly and picked out my free motion attempts at fillers, but I had more success with the walking foot.

I used the border to practice some simple dot to dot lines, marking my turning points with pins.  Then I went back and did more in the Xs that had relatively large open areas.  Nothing complex, but I got better as I went on.

There were a LOT of thread ends to bury!

I used the bright red for the binding which went on really fast after all the pulling and pausing and turning during the quilting.

We no longer have a house with an upper deck, so my tall husband did his best to hold it up in the kitchen.

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It is done just in time to put it on the couch for Christmas.  I guess I need to make a blue and white one for Hanukkah next since we celebrate both.  It is too late for this year – the last candle was a few days ago – but I can have it ready for next year.

I was really scared to put this one in the washer.  I would have skipped that step, but after being dragged around for all the sewing, the quilt needed to be cleaned.   I didn’t think to prewash the fabric way back when I was starting the blocks. I never prewash, but this time it would have been wiser.  Red and white – the bleeding potential was very high.

I did a lot of research about washing it and ended up putting it in with as much water as the washer allowed and double rinsing.  I also threw in six color catchers (the normal amount is one, maybe two for really strong colors).  They came out pretty pink:

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But the quilt did not.  Yay!

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The back is a crowded red and white winter village.  It is busy enough that the quilting doesn’t really show, neither the white or red thread.

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I especially like like the little snowflakes falling on the rooftops.

044A1B9D-AA48-44D6-8EAC-1A47500D0C3CThe quilt is done, the tree is trimmed.  Now I just need to do absolutely everything else for the holidays.  It may be time to start panicking.

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Red and White

I went way back into the closet for today’s sewing project.  Do you remember this one?  I finished the top back in May of 2016.

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You can see posts about making the various blocks and putting it all together here.

Today I settled in with my walking foot and outlined all the Xs.  A lot of twisting and pushing to turn all those corners!  I did a row at a time and then paused to bury the thread ends so I could also stretch and unlink my shoulders.  I tend to have my shoulders around my ears as I sew.  I try to be conscious of it and put them down but they inevitably creep up again.

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I sewed just outside the red, following the edge wherever it led.

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It was a happy moment when I reached the last X!

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Now I’m filling in all the white background with free motion loops.  It goes much faster, though it has been a while since I did it, so my stitch lengths are pretty uneven.  This is the stage where I really wish I had access to a long arm quilting machine so I could be more intricate with the fillers.1C1CA2B4-720A-4451-B403-0F5F1DCE897B

I have built up a backlog of quilt tops so my winter goal is to get them all finished.  There are at least four more after this one.

It may be time to say goodbye

I started quilting about five years ago. When we moved to Oregon, the recession recovery hadn’t gotten very far and most of the schools around us were going without librarians.  No job openings meant a lot of time on my hands.  The first year, I knit six blankets, and volunteered at my sons’ school, and got a little bored.

Then I was at a Goodwill and I found this bright pink sheet covered with cartoon fairies.  My niece was very into making little fairy houses in the garden and collecting little sculptures, so I bought it and pondered it and decided to make her a little quilt.  And a new hobby was born.

But really, this wasn’t the start of my quilting, but more of a restart.  Back in my 20s, I did a few quilts, mostly strip pieced quilts following the “Quilt in a Day” patterns.  I know I made an Irish chain one among others.

And then I made my mom and dad matching throw sized quilts to go with their matching couches.  The couches are long gone, and the house they went in, and one of the quilts disappeared, but one of them has hung on until now.

However, I think it may be time to finally let go:

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This quilt has gone from covering my dad during naps to being our TV room picnic quilt, to its current role folded up and covering the dog’s bed.  It has been camping and to parks and the roof in kid forts.

It has had a good long life and been faithful and hardworking, but the end is near.  Overdue might be more accurate.

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Can it still be called a quilt when the batting is gone?  As well as most of the original color?  All of those pinks used to be burgundy.

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I feel a bit bad about how much abuse this little collection of squares has suffered, but boy, it certainly had a full life.

How do I dispose of it?  I sort of feel like it needs some ceremony.   Maybe my son can learn taps on his clarinet? I’m pretty sure I’ll get some resistance if I try to gather all the family for a formal goodbye. . .

 

 

Fine lines

I’ve been wanting to try a tutorial I found at Art with a Needle for a while, and this weekend, with the family gone for long stretches and the mornings cold and foggy, I’ve had a free period of time to experiment.

I didn’t have a plan in mind when I started – just wanted to get the technique down.  But now I am enjoying what is emerging from the cloth.  I think it looks like a map, with a small town growing in the center and less developed sections on the outskirts.  Each line I add is another road going in.  Sort of what is actually happening in the area I live, with the farms and fields rapidly being replaced by housing developments.

The blue isn’t very map like though.  I may try again with more earth tones and then embroider in details: buildings and trees and landmarks.

The tutorial has each slice going across the whole length of the fabric, but I cut the pieces into pieces and added in extra short lines throughout as you can see in the pics below.

It shrank as the lines were sliced and diced, so I added in more fabric at the bottom and right side.

I think I’m finished.  It is all in one piece again anyway.  I would like to have a few more lines in the busier section, but there isn’t really space for complete width slices, and anything else would entail far too much seam ripping.  Maybe I can make a very detailed modular section next time to get the spacing right for an embellished map.

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There are some puckers and other random weirdness, but for a first try, I’m happy.

It will be a decent size wall hanging when it is quilted.  White lines on the white lines?  Or blue lines crossing over all?

The process sure makes for a thread filled back.

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Slow progress

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In random moments, I’ve been working on the king size bed quilt made from a fraction of the multitude of 2 1/2″ squares I have in my scrap bins.  The pattern is called Growing Up Odd.

It is moving slowly for a couple reasons.  One is that I ran out of the sashing fabric.  By the time I eventually replenished that, I was working on other projects and it got pushed further back in the queue.

But the second, probably stronger reason, is that I can’t quite decide how I want to proceed with this.

I really don’t want to wrestle an entire king size quilt through the harp of my sewing machine, or deal with moving the the bulk of it around for free motion quilting.  I could probably manage the whole thing at once with plain straight line quilting, but I’ve been envisioning squared off loops.  And I’m far too cheap/broke to pay for professional quilting.

I have been vaguely planning to quilt it in strips, but I haven’t really figured out how to then attach them to each other and deal with the backing.

So I keep working on other projects instead, where I really know what I am doing.

But now it is finally approaching the stage where the top is done – I have just a small amount of the sashing strips to still add.  So I’m going to have to start researching various ways to quilt in stages and how to put the pieces together.  I know the right method is out there, I just have to find it and figure it out.

Little birds, finished

I had to stay late at work last week for open house, so before it started I took the time to pin my sister-in-law’s baby quilt. This weekend, gray and rainy (finally! I know we’re going to get tired of the rain in upcoming months, but we really needed it) was perfect to sit down at the sewing machine for a while.

I used a rainbow thread to quilt a spiral in the center, with painter’s tape as a guide to keep the width consistent, and then a lighter variegated thread to outline the birds.

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I went back and forth for a while about whether the rest of the light background needed more quilting. I want it to be a sturdy blanket, but I also wanted the outlines of the birds to really stand out, so in the end I left it unquilted. None of the open area is very wide, so it should be fine.

The quilting went quickly, except for one bird where I caught the backing edge folded over while outlining the legs.  The extra fabric was going to be cut off anyway so I could just slice it close to the stitching lines and pull out the remaining fabric thread by thread.

I used the extra fabric cut off while I was squaring it up plus a few other leftover strips to bind it.  Then I had to watch a YouTube video to remind myself how to miter corners that weren’t at 90 degrees.

The yellow corner caused a little trouble – the navy thread looked horrible and highlighted my less than perfect stitching, so I ripped that part out and switched to a cream thread and it looks much better.

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I learned a lot and would make some changes in the future, but I think it turned out to be a very cute blanket for our new family member.  It will fly to Israel with my husband in a couple of weeks to wrap around its new owner.

FE5D0985-3BFD-4593-BA5D-E981413E04D6The finished quilt, before washing

FF0F31F0-1D45-45F5-B442-C3061693FBF1Out of the dryer and in full crinkle

D247B9CA-0D48-47C8-AF32-04D7CDE742FBAnd the back

 

 

Little birds

As you can probably tell from the blog title, I am fond of birds, and fiber, and especially the combination of birds with fiber.

Add in the fact that there is a new baby in the family – my sister-in-law’s – and it was time for some bird sewing!

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I used helpful tips from the pattern on this website, though I abandoned the measurements and paper piecing and figured I would even it all out after the fact.  I just used the pictures to figure out the general idea, and then started mass producing birds.

Occasionally I went a little too quickly.  There was some seam ripping.

 

Dratted beaks don’t always end up where you want them.  I might have been a little tired at that point.

But I persevered, and the baby quilt grew.

It took awhile to decide what I wanted to do in the middle.  I was going to put four more birds, like compass points, but it didn’t look right.  Then I was just going to go with the light background colors in a scrappy layout.  But this is for a baby, after all, and likely to be on the ground, and suffer various baby fluid indignities, so it seemed like darker colors would be the way to go.

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Similarly, I went back and forth on the corners.  Nests of eggs?  More bright blocks?  In the end, I added in more birds.  Because, as has been mentioned, I really like birds.

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The back got more of the bold colors.

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Now just the pinning and quilting remain.  I have a couple of weeks for that as my husband is going to hand deliver this when he flies to Israel in mid-October.  (I actually did all this sewing a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been very behind in the blogging.)