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.

Summer progress

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Finally on summer vacation!  And then I made the mistake of watering all the new plants in the garden, and a sudden rain storm blew in.  My fault – I should have know better than to temp the rain gods like that.

But it made for a lot of available sewing time.  I’m back at work on the Growing Up Odd quilt, chain stitching the little squares and building the different sized blocks.

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I’ve finished the 7×3 and 7×7 blocks, 16 of each, and I have 34 of the 48 3×3 blocks done.

I tried hard to not duplicate fabrics in the same blocks.  That was easy in the nine patches, but harder when it was a 49 square block, sewn together randomly in chunks.  There is usually at least one repeat.

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Sashing next.  I’m planning to quilt it in strips to make it more manageable, though the actual quilting will have to wait until I get my Juki back from the shop.  My smaller Brother machine is great for regular sewing, but it doesn’t like too much bulk under the needle.

I also finished up my ribbed scarf knit with a variety of coned yarns.  I’m trying to clear up space in the craft storage.  It is entirely 1×1 ribbing, so it made a great work project I could pick up during lunch or faculty meetings.  No pattern or thought needed.

While I was knitting it the yarns were thin and almost cotton like – coned yarns still have oil on them as they were meant to be used on machines – but once it was done and hand washed in hot, soapy waters, and then dried on the hammock, the yarn softened and bloomed. Definitely a cold weather accessory, so it will be put away for awhile.

Clue 3 – Surrounded by Scraps

Today I worked on the third clue of Charlotte Hawkins mystery quilt-a-long, called Surrounded by Scraps.  She was delayed in posting the clue by a massive windstorm that knocked out her internet, along with a lot of trees and other people’s power lines.    They are recovering now from that storm, so it was on with the sewing.

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Clue 1 had us sewing little 4 and 9 patches.  In Clue 3 these joined together with some background rectangles to become larger squares.

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The other part of the clue finally used the larger squares we’d cut.

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My background fabrics are scrappy as well as the darker pattern fabric, and I’ve been a little worried that it dilutes the contrast between the two.  I’m still not sure after finishing this clue.  Maybe I should have stuck with a solid or near solid background?

Here are all the blocks so far.  It will be mid April before we get another clue.

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New mystery quilt started

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Yesterday the first clue in Charlotte Hawkins’ new mystery quilt along was posted, and with the help of yet another snow day, I’ve started right in.

This quilt is called Surrounded By Scraps, and involved cutting a lot of small squares and rectangles that today I started chain piecing into 4 and 9 patches.

It is all about the 1 1/2″ squares for this first clue.

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There is plenty of time to get all of this ironed and finish sewing as the next clue isn’t until February.  When we will probably still be out of of school . . .

These icicles are the only real sign that any melting is occurring.

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Scrappy stars finished

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My children claim that staring too long at this quilt makes their eyes burn, but my boys are prone to hyperbole.

I like the overly bright and busy look of it, though I do agree that the eyes occasionally might need a break, so the back is calmer.

So many little 2 1/2″ squares went into this quilt!  When I look at them I see so many of my earlier quilts represented in the scraps.

I free-motion quilted loops all over the background, trying to get in close between each point of the stars but leaving them unquilted so they’d be more prominent.  Some of my loops are rather wobbly, but I just remind myself that perfection isn’t a requirement, improvement is.

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I figured with a quilt this bright there was no point being subtle with the quilting, so I used a rainbow thread for the top, though I stuck to cream for the backing. (The photo makes it look Christmasy, but what looks green was really blue.)

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I had some trouble with the stitches, with long skips that were driving me crazy and causing a lot of picking out.  I had to keep marking them with pins to come back to later. Eventually I realized it was a needle problem, not just my rusty free-motion skills. I changed the needle and it stopped happening.  You can see one of the long unsecured threads in the picture below.  I don’t understand why a dull needle leads to skips, but I’m glad that the fix is easy.

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There are several ways to machine bind a quilt.  My preferred method is to sew the binding to the back, iron it flat and then fold it over and iron it down again, securing it for sewing with wonder clips.  (I am so on the wonder clip bandwagon – so much less pain than when I used straight pins and stuck myself all the time!)

I like this way because I can do a better job of catching the binding if I can see the edge I’m sewing down rather than trying to catch it on the back while stitching in the ditch on the front.  It does show more on the front, and it leaves a sewn line a little out from the binding edge on the back, but I don’t mind either of those.  In the two pictures below you can see the binding going under the walking foot and what it looks like as it comes out the other side.

On the back it looks like this:

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This is a photo of the crinkly version out of the dryer – you can see the straight line of the stitching that results from top stitching the binding on the front.  I need to work on getting the stitching closer to the edge – I’ve been using the side of my presser foot as my sewing guide, but it makes the binding a little wider on the front than in the back.  Having the two more even would move the stitching closer to the edge of the binding on the back.  Really though, it blends to be pretty unnoticeable.

The finished twin sized quilt out of the dryer:

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The puffy spots on the back where the unquilted stars are stand out the most in the blue section. (The color in the photo above is more accurate.)

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I think I need to make another one, only with a low volume background and dark colors for the stars next time.  There are certainly a lot of scraps left in my bins.

This is the second quilt finished in the last couple weeks.  My goal is two more finished before the end of the year.  That would mean all my finished tops were completed quilts, making a big dent in the WIP pile.

Blue and black finish

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A bit of binding . . .

and the quilt is done!

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This was a Scrapitude mystery quilt, the second I’ve participated in.  I’m so pleased with the colors and the stash-busting.  And just as pleased to have one quilting project to check off the WIP list. The

I kept the binding  scrappy to match the rest of the quilt, and sewed it down by machine. I’m not a purest when it comes to binding, and since the quilting isn’t done by hand, I always figure it doesn’t matter if the binding is either.  And I think it is sturdier this way.  Not as polished on the back, but around here, hard wearing is more important than perfect.

I modified the pattern slightly, leaving out the sashing because I didn’t want the quilt to turn out as big as it would have.  I’m not sure of this one’s destination, but someone will come along who it will be perfect for.

It is in the dryer now, getting its crinkle.  I love a quilt just out of the dryer!

 

Happy to be sewing again

It has been months since I did much sewing.  I’m not sure why.  Yes, we were busy with the kitchen for a big chunk of summer, but even after that work died down, I just couldn’t get back to my sewing machine. Maybe it was how messy the room was, or the huge pile of unfinished projects was too overwhelming.

But today there was actual quilting!  My Scrappy Stars Around the Corner quilt has been sitting, pin basted, since last spring, and at long last it now is quilted.

I went plain with the quilting, using stitch-in-the-ditch (which for me is often stitch-near-the-ditch) on diagonal lines.  I used pale gray thread on top and navy in the bobbins as the backing is pieced from blue and black fabrics.

Next up, binding.