Saturday, June 28, 2008

Finished the First Marque Blocks

(Marquee Quilt pattern from The Modern Quilt Workshop book by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr)

I documented piecing together the strips and the 6x6 beige color blocks for you all. After sewing together four long strips from the 2.5 inch pieces, I pinned four 6x6 background color blocks to that long strip. You can see the additional strips waiting for later in the process at the top of the picture. After sewing the strip to one side of the beige block, I used my rotary cutter to trim off the excess.

First Strip Pinned to Background Block

You can see the first multi-colored strip trimmed and added to the bottom of the four blocks. Now I need to do the same step over but on the top of the block.

First Stip Sew on One Side of Background Block

The next picture has the strip pinned to the top of the blocks. When I pinned the beige blocks to the strip, I tried not to have the seam on the strip end close to where I would eventually trim away the excess and line up the border fabric with the side of the beige block.

Pinning Second Strip to Opposite Side

I sewed them together and trimmed them again. Here is what the blocks look like after step two.

Second Strip Added

Now I need to finish the outlining of the beige block with sewing on the final two strips. There were left over pieces of strips from the previous steps, so I sewed them together to make them long enough to cover the final two sides of the beige block. I arranged the strips so that I didn't have repeating/touching patterns with the top and bottom strips.

Laying out Third and Fourth Strips around Background Block

Once again I pin the remaining strips to the block. Then sewed and trimmed again. You can see in the pinned block picture about offsetting the border strip so that the seam is not close to where you would cut off the excess.

Final Two Strips Pinned to Background Block

To give you an idea of what and how I trimmed off the excess. I snapped a picture of the block right before I trimmed the excess fabric.

Trimming up Third and Fourth Strips

And presto chango! The first two finished blocks. Only 47 to go, YEAH! Actually I have four finished now, but who's counting ;)

First Two Finished Marquee Blocks

Friday, June 27, 2008

Finished Cutting Strip Blocks for Marquee Quilt

Finished Stacks of 2.5 Inch Blocks I finally finished the strip sets (blocks) for the Marquee Quilt pattern from The Modern Quilt Workshop book by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. There were 20 sets in all with about 8+ strips in them. The strips ranged from 1" to 2.5" in height and selvage to selvage in length. The fabric I picked out was from 40" to 45" selvage to selvage. I love seeing all the piles of blocks ready to be sewn together. These will be sewn end to end to make strips again, about 36" in length and 2.5 height. Then they will be sewn to the sides of the 6x6 inch block in the background color for the quilt.

Below are photos of cutting the strips into 2.5 widths from the strip block. I get about 16 pieces out of one block. I got tired of trying to count out each strip at 2.5 inches, so I temporarily marked my table with scotch tape marks. The clamps are helping keep the cutting surface in place in case i bump the table. Believe me I have... The clamps also help keep the two cutting surfaces correctly aligned so I can use them as one big one.

It is not "completely accurate", but it works for me. I aligned it before I placed the clamps on, so it is as accurate as I can get it without permanently fixing the cutting surface to the plastic table. There is a rubber matt under the cutting surface to keep it from slipping too :)

Tick Marks Cutting the Stip Blocks

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Getting Excited

Monday, June 30th is my birthday. It's my hmmm.... 36th. I am a 70's and 80's child. Roller rinks and skates, big plastic jewelry, jellies, polo shirts with the collar turned up, metal lunch box and plastic thermos with favorite cartoon characters on them, cartoons Saturday morning, the whole bit. Having spent my formative years watching Scooby Doo, Mork and Mindy and the A-Team, I have a soft spot in my heart for pop culture. So much so my husband actually has given me themed cakes for my birthdays. I have had Scooby Doo of course. And because we both think animation is cool in general, he also gave me a Power Puff Girl themed cake as well. Hello Kitty makes appearances in the form of gifts at Christmas. I have a stuffed Hello Kitty Doll on my desk at work. She even has a complete trousseau. No trousseau would be complete without a full black vinyl outfit, right? I am not kidding, Hello Kitty is currently dressed in a reversible black vinyl dress.

For my birthday this year, next year and possibly for the rest of my life, I ordered a Pinnacle machine as I stated in my previous post. I had thought long and hard about whether I really should purchase the thing. But in the end, I enjoyed quilting so much that I want to continue to do it. The quilting machine will help tremendously in eliminating the basting process altogether as well as making the quilting easier. I have small throated machine. It is very difficult to maneuver the material around under the needle when it gets larger than a pillowcase. Even free-motion quilting at larger sizes is not easy. Possible, but not easy or comfortable on the shoulders after a while. Not that these are really great reasons to by the quilting machine frame, but there were enough for me to consider it.

In order to make room for this behemoth, 123" in length, we did some rearranging of our hobby room.


Sewing Craft RoomSewing Craft Room


Craft - Hobby Room Reorganization

In addition to making room for my machine quilting frame, we also wanted to add more shelves so my husband would have more area for his technology items. We added a couple of shelves and a hanger rack on my side of the room so I could hang stuff I was working on. We moved my computer table to the same side of the room as my husband's. As you can see, we have our computers on the opposite side of the room as the sewing area. My husband and I like to be in the same room as our together time, even if we are not doing the same thing. We still talk and take breaks together. We did it all through college too. It works really well for us. He really likes to watch what I create. Justin is very supportive. I couldn't ask for a better partner in life :)

Another Craft Room View

Back to the reorg... You may also have noticed that some of my tables changed into nicer wooden ones. We purchased them at IKEA. My wonderful husband finished the tops and added on the legs. They are very lovely as well as very functional. They are wider then a normal desk so my sewing machine fits nicely on it with plenty of room for any pattern books. They also have adjustable legs. They can be adjusted to about counter height if I needed them to. My other two tables are adjustable too. I currently have them at counter height. My back no longer hurts since my ironing and cutting are done at the proper height :)

My Craft ClosetI moved some of my shelving into the closet. It fits really well on the one end of the closet. We were blessed with closets that are four feet deep and the width of our bedrooms. Lots of space for storage. On the right in the photo, I have some shoe organizers I use to keep my fabric scraps in. They are arranged by color. I picked up the tip from a quilt book I was reading.

I promise to keep you all up-to-date on the construction and usage of the frame. I anticipate its arrival sometime around July 12th. Just in time to quilt the queen sized quilt I am working on currently.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wedding Quilt, Quilting Frame

Wedding Quilt

I have been working on a quilt for some friends of mine that recently got married. I picked out a couple of designs from a book called "The Modern Quilt Workshop". I loved all the contemporary patterns in the book. I found it while browsing the quilting section in my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. Here is the flickr set of the quilt in progress.

The color combinations are at the request of the couple. I wasn't sure about the lavender and brown combination until I finished one of the bead blocks. I think it is quite lovely. I also decided instead of having a plain backing fabric that I was going to make them a "reversible" quilt. Both sides will have a quilt top. The one side is dark chocolate brown and the other is cream colored with dark browns and greens.

I finished with the dark side pretty quickly since the piecing for the design is fairly minimal. Though it was the first time I had done circle piecing. As you can see from the photo, I went ahead and pinned all the half-circle pieces before I started to sew them. I had permanent indentations from the pins :)

The light side of the quilt is still in progress. I will post some more pictures to the set in the next couple of days. I just finished sewing all twenty of the strip set this past weekend. This week I have been cutting the strip sets into 2.5 inch blocks to sew along the 6x6 inch blocks for the quilt. The light side is taking longer since the piece work is a little more intense. But I think that it will turn out as well.

Machine Quilting Frame

I have ordered a Pinnacle Machine Quilting frame and Baby Lock Quilter's Choice Pro sewing machine today. I will try and keep my blog posted with the progress of setting it up and using it for you all. I am really excited, since the absolute worst part of quilting for me has been the basting and the quilting. My little Kenmore sewing machine has a very small throat. It made it very difficult to push through even a lap sized quilt.

BTW, if you are in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area and need to by a sewing machine, the Discount Vacuum & Sewing Center in Harrisburg gave me excellent service for my quilting frame purchase. Cindy was really helpful and answered all of my questions. She responded very quickly to all my emails too. Thanks, Cindy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mini Quilts

I made some small quilts recently that I stretched over a wooden frame for my mom on Mother's Day. Yeah, I know that was way back in May. But what can I say...

Any who, I had a wonderful time not planning these pictures in advance, other than purchasing the wooden frames for the stretching. I went though my fabric and scraps stash and just started piecing the pictures together. It was a big change from my planning out the quilts that I have done recently. I was able to do a lot of improvisation. I LOVED IT! I am going to have to do some more small scale quilts in the future.

Here are the results of my labor. The first two I gave to my mum. The last one I kept and is hanging in my hobby room where I do all my sewing.

Polka Dot Flowers (detail)
Polka Dot Flowers
The yellow flowered fabric is an Amy Butler flat quarter I picked up in Ohio last Christmas while visiting my father-in-law. I love how large the flowers in the design are as well as how abstracted, or simplified they are. I didn't want to distract to much from the yellow so I went with another tone of grey fabric for the side of the quilt. This was a scrap I had leftover from making coasters and place mats for my family this past Christmas. I have a thing for circle patterns too, if you couldn't tell :) I wanted to have some defining border between the fabrics with an area that appeared to overlap, so I cut out some of the dots and appliqued them on top of the flower print. The two white lines are bias tape I had left over from making a Denyse Schmidt oven mitt.

Falling Fruit (detail)
Falling Fruit
I fell in love with the bright fruit printed fabric when I saw it in my local JoAnne Fabric store, 40% off coupon baby! I kept thinking about all the cute kitchen nooks I have seen and the fruit pattern motifs. Then I started thinking about chair rails and how I like it when older homes take part of the wall of the kitchen or dinning room and put wood paneling, not dark paneling, but wood boards, on the lower part of the wall. Then they place somekind of molding between the wood paneled part and the flat plastered part of the wall.

As I was engineering this quilt, I didn't know what to do with all the apples. I didn't like them in a straight row. I also needed a bit of red to counter balance the red ribbon, so I cut around the apple and left only the core. I placed it in the lower left to lead the eye down in that direction. It offset the red of the ribbon and the red in the fruit pattern fabric.

Yellow Mums (detail)
Yellow MumsMy younger sister, Crystal, went onto E-Bay and found some fabulous fabric remnants for my birthday last year. I fell in love with the stark contrast of the yellow, white and black of the fabric. I like the over simplified flower designs, go figure :) As you have probably noticed, I segregate my quilts into blocky portions. Don't know why, just do... The white rectangles are appliqued as well as the four rectangles in the upper left corner. You may not be able to tell, but I did a little more quilting on this one than the other two. I had fun making up a design for the brown block on the right, but also had fun following the pattern of the flowers in the middle section. I used some yellow Sulky thread to add some spirals to the berry looking flowers on the fabric. I like how they turned out. The mum flowers are sorta outlined too. I also like how in the brown the flower that is cut off in the strip above the brown area is quilted to fill in the flower even though it is not "there". I did the same in the bottom white rectangle.

Juggling Bags
Issue 6 Craftzine Otedama PatternMy husband and his co-worker are jugglers. My husband had asked me a while back to make him some juggling bags from a pattern that he saw in my Craftzine magazine, Issue 6. It was the Otedama Pattern. I had fun using my fruit patterned fabric again. I also did a series in polka dots.