Rainy days are sewing days

It has been wet and gray, weather that makes me want to curl up with a stack of fabrics and a rotary cutter!

A while back I made another diamond quilt, inspired by one I saw a pic of online. The inspiration quilt was arranged with very symmetrical rows, but I wanted a more random distribution to go with the scrappy stripes. (I can’t find the original inspiration picture, but it was a little like this one, but with wider diamonds and a scrappy background.) Mine ended up rather differently, like this:

Yesterday I gathered a pile of floral fabrics and a diamond template and started cutting to make my second diamond quilt.

My diamonds are 12 inches high, with the blocks end up at 12 1/2″ by 7 1/2″ wide. I always make them a little bigger and then trim them to the exact size to make up for any inaccuracies in my piecing. I don’t use pins when I sew the blocks so trimming fixes any shifting. And it doesn’t take long to trim them. In this case there were 24 diamond blocks.

It was definitely a quicker top the second time around, mainly because I wasn’t having to sew all the strips together for stripes, and I also made most of the background blocks bigger as well. Much less sewing all around, and I like the solid effect as well, though I think I will try a third with a single color background. I was determined to make this one without buying any more fabric which made a patchwork background mandatory. And I do love scrappy in a quilt!

This can’t be good

Broken walking foot

I was happily and successfully quilting away on a fairly simple quilt – just straight lines along seams – when the needle started falling out, then broke, and something went sprong, and the walking foot stopped feeding the fabric from the top.

I took it apart to see what was the matter, and now I can’t get it back together again. I’m going to try again in the morning with better light and a less tired brain. There aren’t that many pieces, but I’m all fumble fingers.

So, since I couldn’t keep quilting, I switched to knitting. Also not a smooth ride. When I finally figured out the crochet cast on for a new lace project, I was almost to the right number of stitches when the cable separated from the needle and dropped the middle stitches. Tried again with a new cable and had to unpick the new stitches of the first row when I didn’t follow directions correctly. I’m now a whopping two rows into the project and I’m putting that down too.

I’m excited about the quilt, though. It is made with Moda’s Road 15 by Sweetwater line. I had a layer cake and a charm pack, so I added some Kona solids and did a combo of squares, half square triangles, and four patch blocks. I also found a great green and white fabric for the back with lots of little houses that fits the roads/houses/maps theme of the top.

White houses on green fabric

Quilt in profess

P.S. Wrote this last night, but couldn’t log on to post it. Not my night for great success!

Design wall

I have a fairly small room in our house for a sewing room. It works, but there is a definite need for some serious time spent figuring out just what sorts of furniture would make it more workable and more organized.

Today’s addition-in-progress is a design wall for quilts in progress. Before today, I’ve had to spread blocks for quilts out on the floor in the living room. Besides creating quite an obstacle course for anyone else hoping to walk from the couch to the kitchen, it also meant either moving my sewing and cutting to the dining room or running back and forth from my sewing room to the living room. Not far, but a pain.

Design wall
A JoAnn’s coupon helped purchase some very inexpensive white flannel. Today I’m testing it with the help of some painter’s tape and a baby quilt I started. If it all stays up, I’ll sew the pieces of flannel together and attach it more sturdily.

Fused fabric – Chinese zodiac animals and a few fish

Last year I took a Craftsy class called Hand Stitched Collage Quilts from Laura Wasilowski.  It was one of the first classes I took from Craftsy and was a definite success.  Here are a couple of projects I made during the class and inspired by Laura’s books:

I love fused fabric quilting for wall hangings because I can add embellishments like embroidery and buttons and still finish in a reasonable amount of time.  And this type of applique is also very quick.  After a few projects, I now have a lot of scraps and don’t have to spend a lot of time fusing the webbing to a lot of fabrics.  Just larger pieces need to be fused and I can begin the more fun part of cutting and ironing.

My children are originally from Taiwan, and they love to hear about their Chinese zodiac animals.  So,  I decided to make them wall hangings of their zodiac animals.

One son is a rooster.  I love bright batik fabric, so his rooster is a full feathered guy, with a black button eye.  I added some feather stitch embroidery here and there to make sure everything stayed in place, and we hung it above his dresser where it looks out over the room, and apparently wakes him up each morning at the crack of dawn.  That boy has never slept in in his life, so that part of the rooster label fits very well.

My other son is a pig.  Not just any pig, but a golden fire pig, which is considered very lucky and only happens every 600 years.  To be honest, we don’t know a lot more about the zodiac than we have read on Wikipedia.  To add to the doubtfulness, the description of fire pigs doesn’t fit my son well and would also apply to every other child born in the same 12 months, making them all equally rare (?) and exactly the same.  But he enjoys the idea that he is a rare and lucky child (along with every other kid in his grade) so we go with it.

For his wall quilt, which is very small, I went crazy quilt style, on top of the gaudiest and goldest (not a word?) fabric I could find.  The photos don’t really do it justice.  It gleams in both threads and sequins.  He loves it and it is hanging right above his bed.  I need to add a little more support – all those buttons at the bottom have made it start to sag a little.

The next project was perhaps a bit too ambitious.  I wanted an underwater sea scene for our cabin.  It got a little out of hand.  I just couldn’t stop adding to it.  Really, I needed an editor to rein me in, or Tim Gunn to wander by and order me to stop adding embellishments.  This one has it all – fused fabric, embroidery, buttons, even crochet and knitting.  (Can I just say that I LOVE that there are knitting patterns for barnacles?)  It took me forever to finish because I kept wandering off to other bright and shiny projects that caught my attention.  This one taught me to stick to smaller, quicker projects.

Knitted barnacles on the coral reef

My most recent wall quilt defies that size lesson, however.  My sister loves koi, and her husband, in random order, and she asked me to make him a koi quilt for his birthday.  More fish!  How could I say no?  After looking at Google images of a lot of koi photos and paintings and quilts, we came up with this quilt.  I sped things up a lot by skipping hand embroidery and going with machine stitching.  I added a lot of free motion quilting in the fins and the lily pads and to outline everything.  Lots of texture without all the hours and hours of hand embroidery.

He is flying in tomorrow and I’m anxious to find out if he likes his surprise.  My sister seems sure it will be a hit.