Crossroads block

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I haven’t started a quilt top for awhile – or done much else with fabric – so it was time to get going on one.  I landed on this tutorial from the Bee in My Bonnet blog.

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I used a lot of my darker scraps on my Growing Up Odd quilt, so for this one I sorted out low volume fabric for the background and dug out some blue solids to scatter in.

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This is what the block is supposed to look like.

After I made the first block though, I realized that I’d have to do a lot of planning if I wanted each X to be from one blue rather than mixed.  I went back and forth on whether I cared, tried a different arrangement, finally decided I did care, and dismantled the completed block.

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So now the plan is to make the X blocks separately from the 16 patches and assemble it from there.

Growing Up Odd – a finish

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A windy photo shoot in the backyard for the finally finished Growing Up Odd quilt, based on a tutorial from the Wedding Dress Blue blog.

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We were racing to take the pictures in the last of the afternoon sunshine, hampered not just by the wind but by the fact that even on a chair and stretching, my son is barely 100” tall.  My husband didn’t need the chair but then he is 6’ 4” tall, before stretching.

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This quilt is made up of 2 1/2” squares from my precut scrap bin, sashed in Kona cotton’s windsor blue.  Nine-patch, 21-patch and 49-patch sections combined into 16 giant blocks randomly rotated to make a top that after quilting and washing is almost exactly 100” x 100”.  Bigger than a queen size, not quite a king.  It will be perfect for our bed in summer when the down comforter is too warm.

This is the quilt that I spent hours pinning badly, an epic fail of tape and will.  It ended up at Quilting Longarm Magic, a local service.

This was the first time I’ve ever sent a top out for quilting by someone else.  It felt a little bit like cheating, but then there are no quilt police, and I could never have done as well on my home machine.  It isn’t something I can afford to do often, but I can see doing it again for something equally large or a quilt that deserves really special patterns.  I don’t mind quilting, but it isn’t the part I truly enjoy, so I could finish a lot more quilts with the longarm help.

I chose a meandering squares pattern goes well with the multitude of square blocks.  With all those seams, I also wanted to anchor as many of the squares as possible.  A bed quilt will go in the washing machine and needs to be sturdy.

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The pattern shows up better on this section of the backing.  The thread used is almost the same blue as this backing fabric.

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He got it back to me in less than two weeks, on Saturday, and I spent Sunday squaring it up and then using the sliced off edges to make the binding.

It gives plenty of coverage on our bed.

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This is the largest quilt top I’ve ever made, and I have ambitions to make more now that this was a success.

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P.S.  I just did the math and there are 1,552 little squares in this quilt.  And I still have even more than those left in the scrap bin.  The scraps can never be defeated!

 

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.