Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Projects: Past, Present, and Future

 Back in 2007 I was teaching a Quilt-As-You-Go technique by Sharon Pederson, which she calls Reversible Quilting.  Each one of these hexagons was hand-pieced, worked on while sitting with my college roommate Dodie as she was being treated for her Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  Here's a link showing the quilt I made for her.  And these blocks were left over.  To prove to the class I was teaching that reversible quilting can be used with any shape, I worked on this quilt.

Fast forward 10 years.  Why did I put this away for so long when it was almost completed?  Who knows.  I probably saw something shinier and brighter.

And guildster Debbie Pine's meeting last year about UFO's has spurred me on, too.  (Thank you, Deb - next up is that damn medallion quilt...)


So what to do with this quilt?  It's an odd size - 48" x 70".  And as pretty as it is on both sides, you can't see both sides at once.  But still.  It needs a home. 

In the mid-80's when I was teaching at Hyde Park HS, I had some terrific students.  One of them was Bridgette.  We have become FB friends for several years, and it's been a joy to see her no longer as a bright-shiny teenager but as a woman full of grace, wisdom, and generosity.  She had some terrific damage from one of the recent hurricanes on the East Coast and lost a lot.  When she said she was interested in this quilt, I was thrilled.  It will be on its way to her as soon as her home repairs are complete.   Because these blocks are connected to Dodie, it is special.  And I can't think of someone more special than B to share this with. 
The quilted back of a block

The hand-pieced and machine-quilted front of the same block.

Quilted border, done by me, added after the body was together


Quilting done by me using quilting paper

Meanwhile, I have also been working on more shopping bags.  This pattern, Hampton Weekend Bag, is basically the size of a Mors Bag. But:
  • it has an adjustable strap that can be worn cross-body
  • there is one layer of interfacing
  • there is a zippered pocket inside. 
I'm heading for a few days with a quilty and then J and I are travelling to Orlando for Thanksgiving.  These bags?  Good for hostess gifts - even though one household has said they need no more bags.  Wait until they see this one!








This table of fabrics represent projects of the sewing future.  These are all for Sew Powerful.  The hope is that there will be over 8000 purses unboxed in November.  I sent off my box last week, and I already have six completed for the next deadline.  I am hoping to top what I sent off.

Busy hands, happy hands - past, present, and future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Adventures? You Betcha!


 I think about the title of this blog.  While what I do may not be daringly adventuresome, my adventure certainly has longevity. And it's highly focused on quilts, bags, and purses.  Quilty buddy Mimi gave me a big pile of wonderfully Asian-ish blues.  I took two of them to pilot this unstructured bag, Hampton Weekend Bag.  It went together quickly - I can see keeping something like this in the car for small shopping trips.  There's a magnet closure, a little zippered pocket inside, and a little slip pocket inside.  The strap has a slider so that it can be a cross-body bag or an over-the-shoulder bag.







Even though I just sent off 34 purses, I needed to make more.  These are an experiment with the various styles of this cross body pattern.  The top three have a gusset joining the front and back.  The bottom three have boxed corners.  They are slightly easier to do. Pink Castle Fabrics in Ann Arbor has a lovely sale with these fabrics at $6 a yard, which is terrific.  It's fun to work with coordinating prints.  Since the whole purpose of this Menstrual Hygiene Management program through Sew Powerful is to encourage young ladies to stay in school, I think the back flap fabric is just so perfect.  I just ordered some more - a lot of future purses are going to include this alphabet fabric.  I am putting purses away (ha, as if...) for a few days and moving on to a couple of other projects.







 As I was working on the previous black and white quilt, I cut 2" logs from the scraps to start a log cabin.  These 9 blocks are on the design wall, and I don't love this.  I think the problem is that the patterns create a "floral" or busy quality.  I am going to work on calming these blocks down by adding more fabrics that read solid.  And as I made this decision, I remember what I love about log cabins:  the variety in layout options.  And it dawned on me that if I had some grey and white blocks and perhaps some black and grey blocks, the design possibilities will be so much more interesting.  I love working on a project like this - one with no particular outcome.  Below is the same layout only with a white diamond in the center. 
Lucky for me that I have a huge amount of grey scraps!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Design Decisions











My collection of black and white fabrics has been growing, and I have been looking for projects.  One for sure is going to be a log cabin, using 2" logs and creating 14" blocks.   I've also been eyeing a quilt of half-square triangles.  Here's that inspiration picture.




So, I began making half-square triangles using a separator strip between the two triangles, like in the inspiration picture.  And here's what I wound up with:
These blocks are in a symmetrical barn-raising design.  And - I don't love it.  What about adding a bit of color? 
I instagrammed this picture and asked "Color - or no."  The overwhelming majority said to for sure add color.  One friend suggested maybe just adding one color.  But the comment that hit home with me asked why add color to a quilt of black and white?  Let the black and white speak. 
So I tried putting the blocks on point, around a center rectangle of smaller half-square triangles.  And adding strips of a greyish-white fabrics. This quilt is going to be for our bedroom.  Using a center rectangle means this design will be bed-shape.  I'm happy with how this is going!





 While dithering about the above issue, I did some simple sewing.  John asked for one of his t-shirts to be turned into a Mors bag and used it for a door prize at the Brookfield Jazz Society. 

And look!  I made bowl cozies.  I did roll my eyes when I first heard of them, but then I saw one and how useful it is.  These have been around for a while, but they are new to me.  Here's the pattern I used.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Reversible Quilting: A Process Post

***If you're looking for pretty pictures, skip this post which is a tutorial***




This is pretty, right?  But here's the problem...



 None of these blocks are connected to one another.  They are lovely - both machine and hand-quilted.  But nothing is attached.



You can see what the backing of the blocks looks like in this picture.

This method is from Sharon Pederson's Reversible Quilts: Two at a Time.  And she has a follow-up book More Reversible Quilts.  I must stress that this method isn't easier or harder than approaching a quilt in a traditional method.  It's an alternative that I have found works for me.  Having a walking foot is essential!


Here's my little cheat sheet reminder of what I need for this process.
  • 2" strips for the front connection
  • 1.25" strips for the back connection
Prepare the front strips by ironing them in half, as if you were preparing binding.

Cut strips the length of your block.  In my case, I cut strips 15.5" long.





The white strips are 1.25".  Those are for my back.  The print strips are 2" and some are ironed in half.

Note:  the measurement of the width of these strips is slightly different from what Sharon suggests in her book.  My sewing is not as accurate as hers, and I find I needed my strips a bit wider that what she suggests.








Lining up the raw edges, pin the folded strip onto the front of your block. 
Flip the block over and clip the narrow backing strip to the same edge you pinned the front bit.

Check your clipping on the front side as well, making sure you have caught all layers.

You can use pins here.  I have found the clips make this slighter easier and more accurate. 
Now sew a 1.4" seam through all the layers:

  • folded top strip
  • block 
  • single back strip
Remove the pins and clips as you go.  
Ironing the back strip out helps with the next step although it's not absolutely necessary.  Because I batted these blocks with wool, they are kind of spongy.  The ironing tamps that down for a bit. 
With the back sides together and the block you've been working on on the top, pin/clip  the single strip to the body of the next block.  You're not going through as many layers, but you have less room to do it in. 

Be patient - the magic is about to happen...

And sew along that seam - see below...
























Open up your blocks and go to the ironing board. 

First, tug gently and make sure the edges of both blocks abut (my favorite vocab word with freshmen - "Hey, she said butt!).  Press the edges down. 

Now press the folded flap over this seam.  And pin this flap in place, covering up all the raw edges. 

















Topstitch this flap down as close to the fold as possible.  

Admire your handiwork. 

Take a deep breath.

Repeat until your rows are connected.
























You will find rolling your quilt handy at certain points.















Here all my rows are connected horizontally.  Now?  Use this same method to join row to row. 

Cut strips the width of your rows.  For this one, it was 62". 

Just use lots of pins and clips.






















It's the same process.


































Your rolls become longer...
































Sometimes I employ the "double-roll" method, especially when joining the last two big pieces of the quilt into one.

Some tips/advice: 

  • Practice this technique on small bits, making your own "cheat sheet" before you tackle a real project.
  • Work with a thread color that will disappear into the backing.  Sometimes my stitching was right on the connecting strip.  But sometimes it was on the backing.  
  • When you think this method is too hard, stop and remember what it's like to quilt a big quilt on your domestic machine.  This method?  Not easier or harder - just an alternative that has worked for me!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Beauty of a Scrap Quilt


 I love this quilt.  (Don't worry if you don't ...)  And I want to tell you why I love it so much.  A lot of it has to do with how it feels.  Trust me - it's going to be a great quilt for a chilly day.  This is 60" x 75" - perfect for napping or reading.

The big reason I love this quilt is that I have used some of my scraps.  I joke about my scraps having scraps, but it's true.  So to make something useful out of little bits is satisfying.

I love this quilt for the setting of what were originally 12" blocks.  To give the quilt unity and help the eye make sense, I used the Attic Windows settings.  The pane on the left side of each block is from a fabric I found in New Zealand.  There are little kiwis hidden amongst the leaves. With the addition of the attic windows side and bottom pane, each block became 15.25" by 15.25" 

Sew the two kiwis in the left panel above?

 Another reason I love this quilt is because of the hand-stitching and the sort-of vertical slash on each block.  Half of the blocks have a bit of red.  Although hard to see, both the side and bottom panes have some hand-stitching.  And that brings me to the key reason I love this quilt:  its construction.
I was able to work on each block individually and then join them together using a "quilt-as-you-go" technique that I learned from Sharon Pederson's Reversible Quilting
Here's the back of this quilt.  This is an Art Gallery fabric from April Rhodes's Bound collection.  It's not black and white - it's actually a dark dark blue.  Some of the fabrics on the front are that dark grey with blue undertones.  The backing fabric became my sashing for the front of the quilt.  For the back and binding I used Kona  snow. See below for a close-up of the back.  For quilters interested on this reversible technique, tomorrow I will do a process post and explain this technique, one that I have taught and used many times.  It's not easier or harder - it's just another way of approaching quilting.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Gifted Quilt Finally Received

***with sincere apologies to all who are photo-proficient***
Do you know how hard it is to get good shots of full-size quilts?  Trust me - it's hard.  This full-size quilt - 94" by 108"  - is for my niece Molly who lives in Orlando.  The last quilt I made for her was in corals and greens.  While she liked the quilt, I was very unhappy working on it (yes, I know it's not about me, but...).  So the challenge for this quilt was to find fabrics Molly liked that I would be happy working with.  And we finally found this group of batiks.  Molly leads a hectic life - she works full-time and performs with choirs and community theatre.  So her quilt had to be calming.  This big-block design is perfect for her.  


Sarah E of @sparklesaxdesigns, one of my Chicago MQG quilties, did a large stiple that was just perfect for this quilt. Because Molly is in Florida, I batted with with a light Mountain Mist poly batting.
This design left me cold and I realized I needed to spread the blocks out.
Molly's parents, also in Orlando, spent the Labor Day weekend with us. I used Molly's quilt for them in the studio/guestroom. When Chris and Jerry returned to Florida, they took the quilt with them. Molly called. She's pleased. Very pleased. So am I.