05 May, 2015

Some Crazy Vintage Quilt Top

Have you ever purchased a vintage quilt or quilt top? Generally I can admire them but walk by. I might be sorely tempted, but the reality of the number of quilts in my house keeps me from getting them. Then this one came along.

It is just a quilt top. Machine but foundation pieced. A mess of fabrics from different eras and many different substrates. It sat with the other blankets and quilts at one of the local antique malls. I saw it once, then twice. Quite easily I walked away.

Then, after months of not going in the antique mall I took the girls there on an outing our craft supplies. And the top was still there. For $40 I decided it finally needed to come home with me. Frankly, I may have overpaid. The edges are all uneven  - the blocks are various sizes - and there are quite a few loose threads and repairs needed.

I am sure that someone, somewhere put some good love and energy into this. Maybe they are clothing scraps? Family memories tied up in this quilt? Or maybe someone inherited a bunch of fabric and threw it together. There is some thought to design in the placement of the blocks. They are laid out in what I've seen called a Fields and Furrows setting.

All that being said, I think I might use this quilt top to experiment with indigo overdying.

I know. Feel free to comment.

Every since I saw these quilts I've wanted to experiment with this technique. But, I must admit, I'm afraid to do it with one of my own quilts. I've also wanted to play with indigo, period, so that I would try both fabric dying and quilt overdying. With so many different fabrics in this quilt I predict they will take the dye differently. And I wonder if the value work will still be obvious?

The days are definitely getting warmer and I can look forward to a messy few days of experimenting in the backyard.

28 April, 2015

Tips for Cutting and Sewing Voile

After posting my Precious - all voile quilt I've had quite a few emails and some comments about the quilt's construction and working with voile.

Voile, while a woven cotton, is not exactly the same as the quilting cotton most of us are used to sewing. It is thinner and silkier. That means it requires some special handling. Nothing fancy, just a bit of care.

Tips for Cutting and Sewing Voile

1. Pre-washing does not make a difference to the feel of the fabric - so go with what you generally do when it comes to pre-washing.

2. Starch or not? I can't say here as I am not a starch user and did not experiment. Again, I think going with what you are comfortable with is going to work for you. But because you pick voile, in part, for its softness, you will definitely want to wash the finished project before using.

3. The ruler will want to slide while you are cutting. Keep your pinky finger of the hand stabilizing the ruler off the edge of the ruler, right next to it. This helps hold it in place.

4. You can cut more than one layer at a time. Voile is much thinner, so I cut with my fabric doubled up.

5. Make sure your rotary cutter blade is sharp. Of course this should always be the case, but the voile seems to snag a bit more.

6. Be careful to keep it right sides up. It can be hard to determine right versus wrong on some voiles, so stack and keep organized accordingly.

7. Use your walking foot for sewing. Or a dual/even feed if your machine has it. This is an absolute necessity. (At one point my dual feed was turned off and I wrecked fabric trying to sew. It took me a lot of swearing to figure out the simple fix.)

8. If pinning, use thin and sharp pins to make smaller holes and not have snags.

9. If you don't already piece with a 75/11 or 80/12 needle do so for this. Personally, I'm a fan of the Microtex Sharps for piecing.

10. You can absolutely mix voiles with regular cottons. They sew together nicely. Use these same tips, even when combining the fabrics.

As for how I put together this particular quilt, it was totally random patchwork. I collected the fabric, cut out a bunch of random triangles, and sewed them together.

Fabrics were gathered from all over. Mostly on-line sources. The selection of voile continues to grow and there are more and more geometric rather than floral options. That gets me very excited and makes me want to make another all voile quilt.

To cut my triangles I used the 60 degree ruler from Marti Michell. You could easily create your own template too. I liked this ruler because while it did give the options to cut different sized triangles it was a larger triangle when used as a template. Frankly, it was the size of the ruler that dictated my own triangle size. Cutting was made a lot easier that way!

Two other things I liked about this particular ruler. One, the little notches on the corners are great. It is so much easier to cut those triangles off before you sew, rather than after. And you do need to cut them off to reduce the bulk in the corners. And two, the guidelines in the centre help you cut the half triangles for the edges of each row, with the correct seam allowance.

Once I had a pile of triangles cut I sat down and sewed. Working on two rows at a time, I sewed one triangle to the next. For the first rows I kept sewing until I thought I was long enough to cover my bed, checked and rechecked that measurement, then finished each row with a half triangle. Once I had enough rows together I used my bed as design wall. Because it was inevitable to have some triangles line up from row to row I embraced that and moved things around for intentional diamonds.

Thank you so much for all the questions and compliments.

Now, as for those giant pencil crayons in the first photo on the post, wouldn't that be cool? Alas, they are just old posts of some sort.

24 April, 2015

Playing With Circles in Quilting - For the Love of the Half Circle

This design has been stuck in my head for months and months. I had grand plans of making this quilt for Valentine's Day - for obvious reasons - but work deadlines got in the way of quilting for fun. I found myself with few immediate deadlines this week and a free morning. Et voila!

Beyond the design itself, I also wanted to make this quilt for another reason. I wanted to showcase some half circles in a design. So often I see two quarter circles used when the quilter could have easily made a single block. The construction is exactly the same, so why shy away from half circles? Is it fear? The unknown? Pure comfort with a quarter circle? I know that the final result is the same, but if you can avoid a seam, why wouldn't you?

There were some insanely gorgeous and creative quilts at QuiltCon, for example, that used quarter circles when half circles could have been used easily.  It might just be me, because of my circular predilection, but I think we need to bring the half circle the attention it deserves.

That focus is going to start with a pair of lips. Or hearts, depending on your viewing angle. That was kind of the point with this design. One big smackaroonie. And all the love for a half circle block too.

This quilt is scheduled to be in a quilt show in a month so I better get it off the rocks and under my machine. I see some free motion text in my future.

If you want more details on making a half circle block you can check out my Craftsy class on Inset and Applique Circles by Machine or pick up Lucky Spool's Essential Guide to Modern Quiltmaking.

20 April, 2015

My Precious - An All Voile Quilt

105'' x 90''

The all voile quilt is finished. When I was thinking of a name for this quilt I kept thinking about how much I did, and still like to, pet this quilt. It is ridiculously soft and I am ultra protective of it. It reminded me of Gollum in Lord of the Rings and his precious crouching over the ring. So this quilt is my Precious.

I used voile for all the triangles. A collection that took me at least a year to amass, as the fabric companies started releasing a print or two along with regular quilting cotton collections. They keep doing that too. After I finished the quilt top I gave away all my scraps. With this finished quilt wrapped around me at night I want to collect them all over again!

Voile is also what is all over the back too. Not to mention the binding. Did I mention how soft this quilt is?

The batting is the same batting I always use - Quilters Dream 100% cotton, in the Select weight. I thought about using a lighter weight batting, to make the quilt even softer. In the end, however, I couldn't find it locally. With the voile you wouldn't think it was the same weight of batting though. It feels very light and so drapey. I can only imagine how much lighter it would have been, but I am not complaining at all.

This is going to be the perfect summer quilt, for those 2 really hot nights we get.

Not having the desire to quilt another king size quilt I happily gave this to Andrea at Urban Quiltworks. She was awesome about accepting the challenge of the voile, calling on her long arm community for advice and tips. We decided on a pantograph because with so many busy fabrics and such a simple construction there was no reason to spend a lot of effort on detailed quilting that wouldn't be seen. She picked this loopy design that reminds me of Fleur De Lis a little. In a turquoise Konfetti thread from Wonderfil it is perfect.

As I said, the binding is also voile, this ric rac print from Anna Maria Horner was perfect. Initially I thought about putting it on the bias, thinking it would look great and be a bit stronger. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough yardage to make that effective. I can always replace the binding if it wears out. For now, it is perfection.

The quilt is already living on our bed. It is so, so girly but my husband isn't saying a word.

I may or may not be collecting voile again to make another all voile quilt. It is just too soft not to. And with less flowery options coming out all the time... And with clothing making scraps finding their way into the collection... This spells trouble, precious and soft trouble.

17 April, 2015

Sarcasm and Orange

We are a sarcastic household. So much so that The Monster's third grade teacher has made a point to comment that most kids don't fully appreciate sarcasm until they are closer to twelve. Not our kids. (She was fully getting it when she was 3.) So when my husband constantly tells the kids "Orange is for nerds!" whenever they wear orange they all know that he is being a smart@ss, not serious. Especially when he says it wearing his own orange jacket.

Not surprisingly, my son's favourite colour is now orange.

After cleaning up my studio this week I set about to sorting out some storage. One of the bins I opened contained a few of these blocks - samples for the Scrapper's Delight class I sometimes teach. With our family conversations and my boy's recent birthday I felt totally inspired to combine everything into one bright quilt for him. I added more fabrics from my stash and the scrap bins to compliment the first few blocks. Each block is currently squared up to 12.5'' x 12.5'', just like the original pattern.

How fun is this quilt? I am having fun making more blocks. That's a good thing, because to get this up to bed size I need to make 49 of these in total. But the blocks are super easy and a great way to unwind at the end of the night.

15 April, 2015

Vintage Treats for Sale

A few years ago I was gifted with a random box of sewing things. Our of it came a wonderful quilt - well, a top that I finished and gave back to the original owner of the box. Otherwise, the contents of the box sat in my sewing room. Once I took out a zipper but that's it. It's time to move on. There are absolutely wonderful little treasures in the box, but they need to go to a more interested home.

Check out my Etsy shop for a complete listing of items for sale from the box. Listings include vintage quilting fabric scraps, dress making scraps, notions, patterns, and clothing. A few items of clothing are finished, most are not. The unfinished ones generally need waistbands or closures only. And the collection of materials in incredible.

I'll admit, I was tempted to keep some of the clothing and use them for fabric, but I just couldn't do it. So much work had already gone into them that I couldn't bear to cut them up. But if you want to after purchasing then go for it!

After shipping and handling I will be donating 50% of the proceeds to Little Warriors. My neighbours that passed on the box were supporters of that charity so it seemed appropriate.

Speaking of shipping. I know it is expensive. Thank you Canada Post. If you buy multiple items I will adjust shipping based on real cost after purchase (issuing refunds, if necessary). And if you are local and want to pick up, then there will be no shipping!

Now, just a tease of what is available for purchase in the shop.

13 April, 2015

Round and Round Update

It felt like months since I did any improv. In truth, it was only a few weeks, but it felt like months. After following clothing patterns and drafting quilt patterns my improv muscles were twitching. Not to mention I was having a pretty crappy day. So I cracked an afternoon beer and dove into my scraps.

Seeing as these blocks are 16.5'' x 16.5'' and my scrap strips are anywhere from 1''-4'' wide, it takes a bit of time to get a block done. But in less than 2 hours yesterday I had 3 more blocks done. And my mood was infinitely better. (Of course the mood improvement may have also been because of a random text from a friend telling me that she saw alligator road kill in Florida and it made her think of me. Don't ask why, but that made me giggly.)

So now I am up to 16 of these blocks. I could stop now and have a good lap size quilt. I'm going to keep going though. I'm always thinking bed size now for the kids' beds, so I will make 9 more blocks. That will give me an 80'' finished quilt, perfect for their double beds.

And perfect for all mood improvements.