Friday, November 19, 2010

The Girls' Puffy Quilts

These quilts were a long time coming. Last fall I started to have the my-girls-should-have-matching-bedding itch, but we couldn't find any fabric that both of them wanted. The 10 year old likes brown and green geometrics or homespuns and the 6 year old still likes florals and pinks. I thought of using the Timber or Modern Meadow lines of fabric in the green and pink color ways, but none of the LQS carried either one. I couldn't bring myself to order that much fabric online, at full price, sight unseen, so we waited.

One day in the early spring we were in Hobby Lobby and the girls saw a piece of fabric they both liked (miracle, cue heavenly music). A coral with a floral and green paisley design. We got a large chunk of it and picked out coordinating browns, greens and burgundies for the 10 year old and pinks and lighter colors for the 6 year old then and there. While my husband was out of town on a trip, I left the sewing machine up in the kitchen and pieced the fronts using Amanda Jean's zig-zag (for the 6 year old) and ragged squares quilt (10 year old) tutorials.

For the back of the zig-zag quilt I used the left over strips to form a center panel. I really like it. Other left overs were used to make 2 large square in square blocks to mimic the ragged squares front.

Then they sat...and sat...and sat...until this month. (Have I ever mentioned that I don't like basting quilts?) But it couldn't be put off any longer if the girls were going to have winter quilts. I basted the quilts with 4 (!) layers of fluffy polyester batting, machine tied them and finished the binding with a serpentine stitch.

What a process...but now we and our quilts can just sit and relax for a second on the front porch.

Cheater Binding

I really like the look of a hand finished binding. I just don't like doing it. Especially on quilts I am not crazy about or ones that are going to get a lot of wear and tear. I kept telling myself that if I pinned well and went slow I could machine bind my quilts but it NEVER worked for me. I would get so mad that the quilt I had put so much work into had a crummy binding.

Then I remembered Miss Mary. For a few months before we moved, I was part of a sewing group that met Monday mornings and sewed baby blankets for the NICU (I was the youngest member of the group by a good 30 years). Miss Mary would sew on all the bindings. She used what I think is called a serpentine stitch. It looked great, was easy and, best of all, impossible to mess up.

This is what the stitch looks like. Look for a wavy dotted line on your machine - I only have 7 stitches on my old Bernina and I have it so you will too. :) I set my stitch width to 4 and length to 2.

I sew my binding onto the front as usual, fold the binding to the back and start the serpentine stitching. Keep the foot centered on the binding and it should stay centered on the front of the binding too.

I peek on the underside of the quilt from time to time to make sure everything is in order - the great thing is that it always is!

I take the corner like usual. There is always some sort of funny pattern at the corner, but I don't mind that at all.

This method isn't for everyone or for every quilt but it I love using it for baby quilts. It adds a fun decorative touch, plus I can move on to piecing my next quilt that much quicker! I finished my daughters puffy quilts and the Baby Tree quilt this way but the Big Tree Quilt will be finished by hand.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Making A List, Checking It Twice...

I feel like there is sooo much to finish sewing before Christmas. I am glad I have WIP Wednesday to keep me focused and organized.

This week I finished Daughter #2's Quilt and the Baby Tree Quilt. Yeah! I will show more pictures of them later - plus my cheater/tricky/fast/simple way to bind quilts.

  1. I am still working on the large Tree Quilt but I think I have figured out how to border it -- maybe. Feel free to weigh in and give me some advice.
  2. Need to bind Daughter #1's quilt.
  3. I have the pieces cut for Brother #4's super late graduation quilt. I am making it like these Pete and Repeat quilts that Amada Jean made last year. It should go pretty fast - I hope. That last color is Kona Charcoal not black - just for the record.
  4. I have started working on potholders for Mom. Love those fabrics.
  5. The new covers for the living room throw pillows are cut but I have stalled at the button hole step. I just need to bite the bullet and get them done. My living room will thank me.
Projects chomping at the bit in the wings:
  • Baby quilt for A.
  • Doll quilts for E. and E.
  • Dream On charm quilt
Not as bad as I thought. Two down and five to go.

Go to Freshly Pieced and check out what everyone else is working on.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Starting Young

Here is my latest attempt at brainwashing, I mean Teaching, my daughter that quilting is cool. We used the scraps from her quilt to disguise the turkey they sent home from Kindergarten. No one will eat that turkey now that it is disguised as a quilt! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tying A Quilt By Machine

Tying a quilt - I know sooo 1980's, but I wanted the quilts I am making for my girls this winter to be super warm and comfy. A quilt is nice, but snuggling under a poofy comforter at night is The Best. I used 4, yes 4, layers of polyester batting in their quilts and with that amount of thickness machine quilting is not really an option so I decided to "tie" it.

To tie a quilt by machine baste the quilt as usual and mark where you want your ties. I was going to "tie" at the corners so I didn't mark. Set the sewing machine on zig-zag with the maximum width and an almost 0 length -

Zig-zag back and forth 15 to 20 times moving forward and back just a bit.

Then lift your presser foot and move to your next tie.

When you are done machine tying, clip your threads on the front and back.

Simple, fast and comfy. I have done this on other quilts and they hold up great. That is the secret for how I got the second quilt quilted so fast. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Stars Must Have Been Aligned

Because I managed to baste and quilt two tops today.

A big thank you to the two little girls who played so well together!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Ultimate Work In Progress

Lee at Freshly Pieced is hosting a WIP Wednesday. Great idea! I can't wait to see what other people are working on and hopefully this will get some of my WIPs done at a faster pace. You have to have something to show on Wednesday after all. :)
This project started last October when I went to the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines. The great ladies from Paper Pieces had a booth and showed me how to English paper piece.

I was hooked.

I messed around for a few months making hexagons out of scraps, but then I got a really good deal on 1930's reproduction fabric - 25 FQs for $25 - and my hexagon journey began in earnest.

I remember taking this picture last February. I was sooo proud of those 5 hexagon flowers.

By April I had made over 30 and was starting to sew them together.

Now I have 63 joined in two large sections and 29 waiting to be sewn together. Most of my hand work happens after the kids go to bed. After saying, "Pajamas, teeth, toilet!" ten million times I am ready for a break. I turn on Hulu and start stitching. I can get one flower done in 1 1/2 hours while watching TV - it only takes 45 minutes with no TV - but what fun is that? :)
I would love to finish the top by February - I'll keep you posted.

What are you working on?

Inspiration Strikes in Iowa

This weekend, on the way back from Nauvoo, my family stopped by the American Gothic House. Unfortunately, we got there after the Visitors' Center closed but we got a chance to stretch our legs and take some fun pictures. That evening I got my packet of fabric from the Bee Improvisational Bee. Elaine requested improv/wonky houses and I decided to give her an American Gothic House.

Honestly, I am not thrilled with how it turned out. I think I needed to use some flashes of bright colors, more wonk and a different/better roof line.

Even so, it was fun to see the actual American Gothic House and recreate it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tree Quilt

Today wasn't the greatest day for taking pictures, but I finally finished piecing the top of this quilt for Brother #2.
He won this quilt in my Tax Return Food Storage Challenge. (Read about it Here and Here).

I put these blocks together from the blocks I received from the Bee Improvisational bee. I was inspired by this Ingrid Press quilt but wanted to have trees instead of houses.

The top measures 48x60 right now. Not quite big enough to snuggle under. So you have to help me. What should I do for a border?
Plain white?
Thin dark brown and thick white?

I am leaning towards a 1/2 dark brown border followed by a 6 or 8 inch white border.

What do you think?

I used other blocks I received to make this baby quilt for his new baby.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My New Theme Song

I was listening to Pandora Radio and heard Material Girl by Madonna. I thought, "material=fabric," looked it up on You Tube, listened to it over and over and over, wrote new lyrics and now it is my "Theme Song." I think it would be sooo fun to make a music video with women dancing, singing and draping themselves in fabric in a quilt shop.

Listen to "Material Girl" while you read the new lyrics.

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they're O.K.
If they don't give me *Kona Cotton*
I just walk away

They can beg and they can plead
But they can't see the light, that's right
'Cause the boy with the *most fabric*
Is always Mister Right, 'cause we are


Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

Some boys romance, some boys slow dance
That's all right with me
If they can't *buy me fabric* then I
Have to let them be

Some boys try and some boys *die when*
I *stop by the quilt shop*
Only boys who save their pennies
Make my rainy day, 'cause they are


*Prints* may come and *prints* may go
And that's all right you see
*My-y stash* has made me rich
And now they're after me, 'cause everybody's


Dream On

Saturday afternoon a charm pack of Dream On by Urban Chicks came in the mail from Crafty Girls' Workshop. By the time Brian and I were done catching up on back episodes of the Daily Show that evening, I had designed this simple quilt. I even figured out how much yardage I will need of white, binding, boarder and backing. Now I just need to decide which print to use as the border.