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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Layers on the Design Wall

What does one do with only one design wall? This quilter just layers quilt over quilt over quilt. This top quilt? It's my current hand project - a UFO I started at Glampalot in 2015. It's my merging of Carolyn Friedlander's needle-turn applicate technique (which I'm pretty hopeless at) on a background of Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric. A few weeks ago I woke up in a panic since my current hand project was completed. The next morning I found this neatly tucked away. Since I began this, I have become more proficient in my version of Sashiko, and I'm loving how this is evolving.
Here's a slightly better picture of this piece.

At the June meeting of my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, I volunteered to quilt and bind this charity baby string quilt, a project headed by Debbie Pine.  This is a charming scrap quilt with lots of straight-line quilting, and it washed up beautifully.
Over the weekend I decided I had to make a duffel bag from a pattern in one of Sara Lawson's books.  I love these two books - Windy City Bags and Big City Bags - and have made bags from both of them.  But I couldn't find them.  It took some major putting away and straightening up before I found these books.  One of the things I unearthed is a project I started for John's older daughter several years ago.  Why didn't I finished it then?  Who know.  But what I do know is that this Christmas Tree is perfect for Julie for right now.  She's relocated to Atlanta but will be home for the Christmas holidays.  Perhaps this tree will resolve her decorating dilemma.
And finally what's uncovered is my current project.  More about this in a day or two!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Mid-August Pictures

This Sloan Travel Bag is for Jenny - she has had an Aeroplane bag of this fabric, and she was pretty thrilled that I was able to locate some more of this fabric to upgrade her 5-year old Aeroplane bag. 

This Sloan Travel Bag is for my stepdaughter Jen's 50th birthday.  The fabrics are a charm pack from Zen Chic Moda's Luster line. 

The reverse side

A SewPowerful purse that has the "option B" front flap.  Just something a bit different.

Key fobs - I just hadn't made any in a while

The best ever lemon cake

Thursday, August 2, 2018

August So Far...

A Sloan Travel bag in process for a friend's mid-August birthday
The Sloan is my favorite travel bag.  Here is mine - well-used and holding up very well.
These 5" charms will also be a Sloan travel bag.  This one has no deadline - I just like touching these fabrics.

Here are the last two "period purses" from July.
And the design wall with the 7 from last winter and the 23 from July. 
Most of the purses are packed away in the duffel.  And now the design wall can feature the twenty 15" scrap blocks that are being hand-quilted.  The ones up are complete and ready for joining. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018


How lucky am I to have a block of time that I can devote to charity sewing? My goal was 20 for July, and I did 21 SewPowerful purses to add to the 7 that I did during the winter. These purses are for a menstrual hygiene education program in Zambia, one that is connected with a spiritual, educational, and agricultural mission.  Without whining, I must point out that each one of these purses has 11 pattern pieces, all of which are interfaced because I use quilting cottons. A group of 4 purses in the same colorway takes me almost three days. What really slows me down at the end is the notecard that goes into each purse, a card of encouragement/exhortation. The girls treasure these notecards, so they must be done with care and thoughtfulness. I'm thinking about continuing to sew purses and asking the AAUW group to whom I'm speaking about Sew Powerful in October to help me with these cards. My new goal is to have 50 by then.
I've been working on a couple of purses, one for me and one for quilty Eileen.   I love this new pattern, A Zippy Bag by Jen Fox Studios, for its size and design.   Thanks to all the Sew Powerful purses, I have become the queen of gussets - the long vertical piece that connects the front of the bag to the back of it.  These fabrics - one from Holly, one from South Bend, and one from my stash - are ones that I love.  But look below at Eileen's bag - she provided the fabrics, and her bag is lovely.
On the back of my back I mimicked the design of the front with some quilting.

The front of Eileen's bag
On the back of her purse I added a simple pocket.  I wish I had done that to mine, too.  
Both bags have a top zipper.  

So, next up: more Sew Powerful purses, a Sloan travel bag, binding the quilt for Molly, organizing some hand projects, and some quilt tops. As my friend Bill Stearman often says, Life is Good.