Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Friendship 360 Quilt Completely Finished

It's hard to believe I started this quilt during the 2016 election year.  That was when a group of us were making Quilty 365 appliqued circle quilts.  Four years and another presidential election cycle later, I am happy to say that my Friendship 360 quilt is finally completely done!

I got the top done in August 2018 (blogged HERE) and in the fall of 2019 sent it off to my local longarm quilter, along with a couple other quilts.

One by one, the quilts were returned to me and I trimmed and bound them.  My circle quilt was the last to come back home in early October.

It's so nice to see a quilt again after it's been away for awhile.  Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.  Sandy did a nice job with the overall quilting design.

I put the binding on it right away and got it on my bed just in time for the first real cold snap this fall.  Waking up in the early morning light to appreciate the colorful variations of individual circles...well, it's just a great way to start the day!

You can read more about the process of making this quilt by clicking the Quilty 365 tag in the sidebar on the right (or HERE).  It's a fun trip down memory lane to skim through those posts.

* * * * *

The sandhill cranes are migrating, and great flocks of them can be seen and heard as they gather together to prepare for their trip south.  What a wonderful sight and sound!

I snapped a picture of this pair preening, during a walk near the marsh in October, around the time I was finishing the Friendship 360 quilt. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

String Diamonds Finish

The last time I talked about the String Diamonds quilt (post here), I was in the process of piecing it on foundations of telephone book paper.  I got them all done, trimmed, and papers removed.  They made such a pretty stack.

I played with the layout a bit on the design wall, as you do, and then gathered the pieces back up into stacks of labeled rows and put them aside while I made the wedding quilt.

When the wedding quilt was at the longarmer, I started putting the String Diamonds top together.  I quickly realized that where the narrow points came together, it was going to take some friendly coercion to get those seams to lie flat. 

I was reminded of a day in the 1970s when I heard a noise coming from my mother's sewing room, and I entered to find her standing over the ironing board wielding a thingamabob she'd had to purchase for the tailoring class she was taking.  

(Dritz point presser and pounding block)

Now being of the "spare the rod..." generation, my mom was no stranger to whacking things into submission, but what in the world did that polyester double-knit ever do to her?

That's when she explained that she was using her wood block to get a seam in her blazer to lie flat (I think it was a pocket detail), as she'd been taught in class.  Ah, so this was really a legit thing!

Back to my String Diamonds top, I probably still have my mom's old point presser and pounding block somewhere packed away, but I was too lazy to go looking.  So I grabbed the closest thing from the pegboard above the workbench a few feet away.  It worked, but...

It also dented my ironing board.  So after the first few blows, I grabbed a piece of scrap wood and put it between the underside of the quilt top and the ironing board.  That, and a hot steam iron, worked like a charm!

I've really been trying to use my stash as much as I can and avoid the stores.  I actually don't mind having some limitations; it gives me an opportunity to think more creatively and often leads to some interesting choices.  

Take, for instance, the backing I used on the String Diamonds.  I had a big old bunch of it (a thrift store find, I think...either that or among the things a friend gave me when she was helping her mother destash).  I thought I might use it for the back of a girl's quilt at some point.

Well, I'm a girl, and why not? I thought to myself as I was looking for backing options for String Diamonds.  It may be an older fabric, but it's fun looking and playful.  I'm all for that.

I quilted this one in a simple meander with multicolor thread.  That's something else I seemed to have plenty of, so why not use it.

This is my new TV-watching throw for winter.  Currently, we're watching The Crown (love!), but before that we binged The Queen's Gambit on Netflix (also very much enjoyed).  I highly recommend both.  As well, there's been The Voice on network TV.  There are some wonderful singers this season, as always.  Interesting how they've managed to make the show work within pandemic-required restrictions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Wedding Quilt

 I was waiting for a mid-October wedding to take place before I showed you the quilt I was making for it.  And now I've waited another month...for good measure? 

(Neighbor's tree on Sept. 30)

Well, better late than never, as they say.  Although the latter briefly passed through my mind, as apathetic as I appear to be toward writing anything down lately.

(Same tree on Oct. 10)

The inspiration for this quilt came from an image I ran across on Pinterest, unfortunately with no origin story, website, or reference as to its maker, so I don't know who to thank for it.  If you recognize it, let me know so I can give proper credit.

(Inspiration Quilt, Maker Unknown)

I did a little doodling on graph paper to get the numbers worked out, and then set about cutting out a lot of squares from background fabric and multiple batik fat quarters, and then making roughly a bazillion half-square triangles.

I ran out of room on the design wall as I was laying out the pieces, which should have been a good clue that I might have a size issue.  

There is a certain size I try not to exceed if I'm going to quilt something myself, which was my intention with this wedding quilt.

But I forged ahead anyway, sewed it all together, and then put the quilt top on the living room floor.  And that is when reality hit, ushering in a plot twist:  Contact my local longarm quilter and see if there was any possibility she could quilt this wedding quilt for me within two weeks.

I fully expected the answer to be a kind no, but to my surprise she said she could do it!  Thank you, Sandy, for saving the day!

The happy couple, my brother and his new bride, say they love it and that it now occupies a special spot on the back of the sofa.  I hope they enjoy snuggling together with it in the months and years ahead!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

String Diamonds

Currently in the works is a string diamonds quilt based on the "Diamonds Are Forever" pattern from the book String Quilt Revival by Virginia Baker and Barbara Sanders.

I've had the book for a few years, and the instructions call for using a stabilizer called Sheer Delite to sew the string blocks onto.  It doesn't get removed, just becomes part of the quilt.

Well, try to find that stuff now.  After spending (too much) time searching the internet, it seems to me they may not make it anymore.  Or maybe it's sold under a different name.

So I figured I'd just use my trusty, old faithful phone book pages as foundations.  I have to remove the papers, of course, but I'm no stranger to that process and don't mind doing it.  It's a good thing to do while listening to an audiobook.  I just finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho through my local library, using the RB Digital app.

In searching for information on the stabilizer for the quilt, I happened upon a YouTube video tutorial by Tea Quilts. She was also using paper foundations to piece her "Diamonds Are Forever" quilt.  Excellent tutorial, by the way, and she includes instructions to make the kite-shaped template in the description box below the video (click on "Show More" to expand the box).

I use a diagonal line of Elmer's washable glue stick to secure the kite shaped piece to the diagonal of the paper, then just line up my strings along the straight edge and sew away.  No pinning required.  I work on about four blocks at a time, chain piecing them through the machine.  It hasn't been a problem to remove the paper where the glue was.  Even after pressing the block, the glue releases cleanly and there's no problem with tackiness on the fabric.

At first I was going to use black for the background fabric, i.e. the fabric you cut the kite-shaped pieces out of.  But after I made a few sample blocks, I wasn't in love with that color scheme.  Nothing else in the quilting fabric stash really grabbed my attention, but luckily I spotted a big piece of teal colored linen-like fabric that I'd bought to make a dress.  Well, the dress never happened and wasn't going to happen, so I tried making a few string blocks with the teal fabric and loved it!

I think it's cotton (or mostly, anyway).  I remember buying it at JOANN years ago from among the garment fabric bolts.  The weave is somewhat coarser in texture, but it drapes and presses well.  It seems to be doing very nicely in this quilt.

Man, there are some weird, wild, and wonderful fabrics in this baby!  I'm just grabbing from the scraps and strings buckets and bins as I go, trying not to overthink anything.  It's pretty amazing how little of a dent I've made in the strings so far.  Hopefully by the time I get done, I'll notice a reduction.

I've also prewashed and pressed fabric for another quilt that I need to get started on soon.  A whole lot of batik fat quarters here.  This quilt will need to be ready to gift in several weeks' time, so I may have to interrupt the string diamonds quilt to work on that.

I'm probably not going to be able to reveal much more about the batik project while I'm working on it in case the giftee reads this blog.  But I'll be sure to take lots of pictures that I can show after it's all done and delivered!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Masks, Mugs, and Quarantine Quilt Block

I've been making masks since March, like a lot of us have.  Five months in, and I'm still making masks.  I bet many of you are, too.

At first it was for myself and a couple of friends and family members.  Pretty quickly, though, I got involved in a local effort to make masks for the hospital and other care providers, EMTs, nursing homes, etc.  A small group friends and I made over 300 for a correctional facility in the course of a few days back in April.  

Since then, most of the masks I've been making have been for my sister's massage therapy business and for my sister-in-law Donna and some of her friends and coworkers at a local distribution center.  With school starting soon, lately there have been more requests for kid-sized masks. 

So the mask sewing has been pretty steady.  I've used a lot of my own stash and some that was given to me.  My SIL has been supplying some really cute fabrics lately, and there have been more special requests.  Some like splashy, bright colors or themes, while others just want black or gray.  

I enjoy working with any kind of fabric and I'm happy to make something to help keep people safe.  And it keeps me occupied and feeling productive.  It's not all I'm doing in the sewing room (more on that later), but one of the things.

I even learned how to use the lettering feature on my Brother machine for the first time.  That was interesting—and also a bit of a pain in the tush, if I'm being honest.  But a happy young woman wore this one (and I only made one!) to collect her high school diploma in June.

Also back in late March, my brother asked me for any ideas for sewing-related merchandise for his new home-based engraving business.  We bounced some things around and then worked out this design.

Celebrating the community of home sewers who have stepped up to fill the need for masks during the pandemic!

He also printed a sample for me on a t-shirt.  It was a perfect fit on Dolly, the mannequin.

We also worked together on another idea I had, Bobbin Chicken!  My brother is not a sewer, so I had to explain to him that bobbin chicken is the game you play when sewing with a dangerously low bobbin.  You forge ahead with your seam in hopes of finishing it before the bobbin thread runs out!  Not sure he totally got it, but he humored me.  We put together the design with the help of my daughter who drew the elusive bobbin.  And that's how Bobbin Chicken came to life!

(Bobbin Chicken Mug by DMP Engraving)
You can check out these sewing-themed things, as well as the full store at DMP Engraving.  He's been making a lot of neat stuff and is happy to help you create that unique item of your own. 

I'd been thinking about submitting a quilt block to the Quarantine Quilt project at Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.  With just a few days before the deadline, I decided to use the design on the sample t-shirt as the basis for a quilt block.

I sent it in just under the wire, and now it and hundreds of others have been made into a Quarantine Quilt.  Actually, it's not one quilt; they were able to make 27 quilts from the blocks submitted from across the country and abroad!  

(Quarantine Quilt at Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts)
All of the Quarantine Quilts are now on display at the Wisconsin Quilt Museum in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.  I haven't been there in person yet, but I plan on it.  

In the meantime, they did a Facebook Live launch event recently, and I spotted my block in one of the quilts on display.  Below is a blurry screenshot of the video feed, but you can see it in the top row center.  

For more information on the exhibit and to see some of the blocks submitted for the Quarantine Quilt exhibit, visit the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts website.

How about you?  Have you made your own quarantine quilt, or a block for someone else's?  What direction has your creativity taken these past few months?


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