A finish!

imageMoroccan Tiles quilt finishedMoroccan Tiles quilt finished

The Moroccan Tiles quilt is finished!  Quilted, bound, and ready for a quick trip to the laundromat (I don’t want to risk putting this big a quilt into my top loader machine – it would be horrible to mangle it!)

My walking foot woes on the Juki were solved with a trip to the Montavilla Sewing store in Portland where I bought it.  It turned out that the lever on the walking foot that fits over the screw (that also serves to keep needles in) was slipping sideways and catching in a groove.  It had completely bent a pretty sturdy screw and even ground off a bit of the lever metal.  The repair guy ultimately solved it by adding a washer so it can’t slip into the groove anymore.  He also smoothed out the metal on the lever so it rides without catching again.  It works perfectly.  Yay!

Juki walking foot with washer
If you look closely, you can see the new little washer that solved all my walking foot troubles.

Though it seems I’ll be making a second trip there soon because all the fiddling has knocked the needle threaded out of whack and it doesn’t work now.  But that wasn’t something that prevented a finish.

The center I quilted in a grid pattern on the gray sashing.  It made a great diamond pattern on the back.

Moroccan Tiles quilt back

The narrow border I stitched on just the edges, and then I added some wavy lines to the wide border – really fun to sew and they make a good contrast with all the straight lines throughout the main section.

Moroccan Tiles backing detail

Moroccan Tiles backing detail

The binding went on quickly.  I almost always do a hand sewn finish on my binding, but my cousin has a dog and I think it might get washed a lot, so I did a machine sewn finish for extra longevity.   I sewed it on the back first, ironed, and then sewed down the very edge of the front.

Moroccan tiles quilt bindingI used the same fabric that made up the thin border for the binding, so it frames the wider purple border.  My cousin came down to Portland last weekend just in time to bring it to me.

I love how it turned out, and I’m no longer afraid to make such a large quilt.  My Juki’s harp handled it without much trouble – having the blocked on point helped with that I think, since I could pull the corners out of the way through the harp space.  A new quilt four our queen sized bad may be in the near future.

Next up is a duvet cover for my mom, a much quicker project.  Though it did take her an hour and a half in the store to pick the fabric.  She and I have a lot in common – we must touch all the pretty colors!

Fortunately/Unfortunately

It has been rather a fortunately/unfortunately story around here in the crafting arena.  I jumped right into quilting yesterday morning, after moving to the dining room where the table can be made significantly bigger than my sewing room can handle.  I need to do quilting in the morning when it is cooler.

Fortunately, I had a lot of empty bobbins to fill.

Unfortunately, I filled five of them with navy blue before I tested it on a scrap sandwich.Stitch testThe plan was gray thread for the top, navy for the back. Defintely not a success.  The loops of the navy show – not a lot, but definitely not something I wanted for the front, which is going to be quilted entirely in the pale gray areas.

Fortunately, I had more empty bobbins to fill with gray.

Unfortunately, there were only two.  But I didn’t want to waste all that navy thread by pulling it off, so the plan is to just refill the two until I get to a store to buy more.

Once I started quilting, things were going smoothly.  I was able to wrestle the whole thing well enough through the Juki’s harp (fortunately).  Unfortunately, just as I was changing out the second bobbin, I realized I’d never put on my walking foot!  I think all this heat has melted my brain.

Quilting A's Moroccan Tiles quilt
Quilting with the regular presser foot.

That was pretty much the end of the fortunately part of the quilting.  I had nothing but woe once I put on the walking foot.  It would stitch along for a while, then suddenly seize up, forcing me to clip the threads again and again to get the machine to function.  It was as if the needle was getting caught on something.  I checked the bobbins, changed needles, did a thorough cleaning of everywhere in the bobbin casing – same problem kept happening.

It seems to be the walking foot is wrenching the whole bar that the needle is in to the side somehow, twisting it. The screw that tighten the needle and the part of the walking foot that rests around is now out of perpendicular, so the walking foot eventually prevents it from moving up and down smoothly.

Unfortunately this is the second time this has happened, though the first time I just thought the machine had come that way, since I hadn’t had it long.  This is also my second walking foot for this machine as the first made horrible clanking and grinding noises (perhaps while pulling the bar out of perpendicular?)

So, unfortunately, no more quilting with the walking foot until I get the machine into the shop on Monday and find out why this keeps happening.

Back to a more fortunate note, there is no end of fiber crafts to switch to around here.  Today I finished a sock.

Hedgerow purple sock

Hedgerow purple sock

It fits perfectly, and I’ll be casting on shortly for sock two.  Much more of a deep purple than it appears in the pics – I dyed the yarn a while back and started the sock on our June trip to NYC.  It has been languishing since the yarn color and stitch pattern make it hard to see in the evening, which is my usual knitting time.  But fortunately (last time, I promise) I was spending a sunny morning with friends and had lots of light.

Perhaps not my smartest idea

It hit 102 degrees here yesterday.  Around here, that is about as extreme as it gets (at least until this afternoon which is supposed to be worse.  Seriously Portland, what are you thinking with this heat?! You’re in the PNW!  Stop the madness!) So, I thought it would be a good idea to do some pin basting outside.  Not my smartest heat wave activity choice.

Pin basting A's quilt

I don’t have a big enough floor area to spread out a quilt of this size indoors, so the driveway was really the only option until I get some folding tables,  I swept away stray leaves and pebbles, got the gardening knee pad, and set in.  A large sun hat helped, and so did starting in the sunny part so I could move back to the shade.  But I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m crazy.  Hard to disagree.

A's quilt - pin basted

I put all the pins in colored squares as I’m going to keep the quilting to the gray areas.  Still mulling the exact plan.

I’m so intimidated to start quilting this behemoth.  Will the Juki’s harp and my dining room table be up to it?  We’ll find out today when I get started.

While I pinned, my sister and my youngest worked on Dr. Seuss frames she is making for her special ed classroom.  She is going to paint them in wild, Seussian colors and hang student art in them.

Dr. Seuss frame

Meanwhile, the cat coped by strategically utilizing her own sun hat.

Cat and sun hat

Bits and pieces

It has been a little hectic around the house the last couple of days.  My sister, who has lived with us the past year, went back to Mississippi last month to pack up her family and household.  Sunday night she, her husband, and two of their three kids arrived with a 27′ rental truck, two French bulldogs, and a cat.  It rapidly got very crowded around here.  But in a good way!  The apartment hunting has already begun, but we are enjoying them in the meantime.

I have squeezed in a little sewing nonetheless.  The backing for my cousin’s quilt is completed.  There was quite a lot of seam ripping, a function of not having quite as much fabric as I needed in length, and changing my mind in mid stream about how I wanted to solve that.

I couldn’t get a good picture of it.  Too large for the iPad camera.  But here are some awkward shots.

The first attempt had strips at the top and a wide blue border on one side. I decided it looked unbalanced and needed to be wider, so I added a blue border on the opposite side later.

The first attempt has strips at the top and a wide blue border on one side.  I decided it looked unbalanced and needed to be wider, so I added a blue border on the opposite side later.

(The top, in the background, will also have borders, but I’m adding them later to reduce the bulk I will be wrestling through my machine.)

Adding an additional side border to the back made the strips on the top too short, but I had only inches left of most of the fabrics so I added in a four patch block.

Adding an additional side border made the strips on the top too short, but I had only inches left of most of the fabrics so I added in a four patch block.

I’ve asked my cousin to see if she can get another yard of the dark blue that is going into one of the front borders and I’ll use that for the binding if she can. Otherwise I will need to head to the fabric store again.  I don’t have enough left of anything for a border.

Other than that, not a lot accomplished, fiberwise.  But I did go with my sister to a very cool crafting store this morning.  Scrap is a shop of recycled materials, anything that someone might find useful for artistic pursuits.  There is yarn and paper, but also empty thread spools and plastic bits and tubes and fabric remnants and old cards.  It is a lot of fun, and the stock is constantly changing.  This time I found some possibly rayon yarn, some big spools of thread, and black and white fat quarters, among other things.  I came home and immediately made a few more paper pieced hexagons for a mini quilt I’m building up.  Every black and white fabric I come across loses a corner for this.  I think I’ve almost got enough.

Black and white hexagons

Measurement woes

Strangeness is occurring in the Moroccan Tiles quilt.  I finished all the sashed four patch blocks yesterday, and then got my new 5 1/2″ square ruler out to see if they needed much trimming.  Only they weren’t 5 1/2″ blocks, it turns out.  They are a bit small, which I would assume is a function of my seam allowance, except that they aren’t symmetrically off.  Each block is 5 1/4″ x 5 3/8″.

I can’t figure it out.  I checked the fabric widths and everything was cut to the right size – 2 1/2″ print strips and 1 1/2″ silver sash strips.  Which points back to the seam allowances.  But they are so evenly off.  Every one is 1/8″ in height and 1/4″ off in width. The only thing that explains it is I must have changed where I was lining up the edges between sewing the first print and sashing strips together and when I sewed the two patches into four patches.  But why, after all this time, would I suddenly change seam allowance guides in mid quilt top?

The mysteriously uneven blocks - a fraction wider than they are tall.
The mysteriously uneven blocks – a fraction wider than they are tall.

I could have trimmed them all, but that was going to be a pain.  Instead, I cut the silver squares to be 5 1/4″ on each side to match the narrower measurement, and as I sew the print blocks to the solid silver blocks, I’m adjusting them slightly so that the silver seam allowance is a little narrower than the print.  Since I’m doing that for assembling strips, but making the edges more even when sewing the  strips together, the blocks are all ending up square and equal in size again.  Still a little small, since they won’t finish to 5″ as intended, but adding an inch to a border width will get me back to the needed quilt size.

The slightly adjusted alignment
The slightly adjusted alignment

That problem solved, I have about half the strips created and have been sewing the strips together in pairs, and now I’m hitting problem number two – my design wall is not big enough for this quilt!  I’m going to have to move back to the floor for some of this.

A's quilt in progress - assembling rows

I ran out of wall before I ran out of quilt
I ran out of wall before I ran out of quilt

Fabulous, but not so fast

My aunt recently commissioned me to make a quilt for her daughter whose long term quilt bedspread was disintegrating.  A lot of emails ensued.  I sent many pictures culled from Google Images and Pinterest to my cousin who narrowed down the designs to two:

A's quilt choices

imageI then settled on the Amy Smart quilt – called Mooccan Tiles – for two important reasons.  The first is the pattern for the blocks takes far fewer steps.  The second one is I already own the pattern book!

Next step was sending my cousin off to the fabric store near her to get print ideas.  I sent yardage amounts in case she found fabric she couldn’t live without.  I think she found it a bit overwhelming, but it was useful because she decided she really loved batiks, and she found a blue that went with her current bed skirt so we could build the quilt around that anchor color. She ended up buying that blue and a few fat quarters of blue and purple batiks and mailing them to me.

With those in hand, I went to the 35% off sale at Fabric Depot and bought a LOT of fabric.  Because what makes this quilt not-so-fast is the fact that I’m scaling it up to 96″ x 96″.  Not a small quilt.  In fact, it will be the largest I’ve ever made, and I’m rather daunted at the idea of getting it all through my sewing machine.  I’m still exploring the possibilities for quilting it in sections, but haven’t decided yet.A's quilt fabric

Those are the fabrics I ended up with after a long time pulling and replacing bolts in the batik aisle.  The deep blue near the top is her choice, as are a few of the fat quarters.  I added more blues and purples and some green and magenta touches.  The only one that isn’t going in is the one in the bottom right, as it just didn’t blend in with the others when I put all the strips together.  Should have maybe figured that out before I cut it into strips!

I started the cutting and sewing yesterday and I’ve made some real progress by this evening.

imageimageA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progressA's quilt in progress

That last photo is what 144 blocks looks like.  I spent time trying to mix up the different prints as much as possible. No block has the same fabric twice, and then I made the piles to make sure that really similar blocks would not land too closely together.  No guarantees, but the spread of prints should be pretty random.

I’m completely enamoured of the colors, the batik fabric, and the pale silver Kona cotton for the sashing.  Next step is to cut all the plain silver blocks that will go between the colorful blocks.