Category Archives: quilting

When last we left our hero…

I’ve been a bit busy and have gotten woefully behind in my blogging, also, I was in a motorcycle accident 2 weeks ago, and it’s taken me a while to be comfortable to type at my desk…

i was pretty lucky, but the tank won't hold gas anymore:(
i was pretty lucky, but the tank won’t hold gas anymore:(

Anyway, to pick up where I left off – I DID finish my quilt by the deadline I set myself. Because I’m amazing.

Pinning the 3 layers together was no big deal. Then I trimmed it a little and began quilting.  I had read the instructions for how much open area was too much for my particular batting, and decided to ONLY stitch-in-the-ditch.  I soon discovered that stitching in the ditch was not as easy as I thought it would be.  You have to be MORE patient and careful about making straight lines since there is a seam you’re following.  I did pretty good, but had some misses -nothing to make me tear out any of the quilting.

ditch stitching, sometimes not quite on the ditch...
ditch stitching, sometimes not quite on the ditch…
It would have helped too if I had used a more color matched thread, but I used the same grey I had done all my other sewing with…  live and learn.

Lastly, of course, was the edge binding.  I had discussed this with my fab instructors because I’m not a fan of hand sewing.  It’s so damn time-consuming!!  But Patsy and Charlotte suggested (not altogether gently;) ) that I had done everything “correctly” up to this point it would be a shame to not finish like a champ.  So I sucked it up, put some terrible movies on the computer and hand-sewed the last of the binding on.  yes yes, hold your applause;)

hard at work hand sewing
hard at work hand sewing
sometimes i don't think my fingers were made for such fine needlework...
sometimes i don’t think my fingers were made for such fine needlework…
binding: the machine sewed side
binding: the machine sewed side
binding: hand sewed side
binding: hand sewed side
I took it out to the “Quilt and Dine” at Sew Hut on June 27th and got to show my finished quilt to my instructors:)  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
my quilt and quilting ladies
my quilt and quilting ladies
Charlotte, my quilt, and me
Charlotte, my quilt, and me
Too bad it’s too warm to use it!  (there are rumors of Charlotte and Patsy teaching a more advanced quilting class…  I’m on the list if they do)

Freshman Year

[friend] Going to a couple breweries tonight to pick up a few things and maybe taste a few. Interested in coming?

[AQ] Can’t, leaving for quilting class right now.

[friend] That’s an excuse I will probably never hear again in my life.

I’m sorry to disappoint you but this blog is not dead. [yet]

For the past 5 weeks I’ve been taking a beginning quilting class through Sew Hut, taught by two lovely, but incorrigible, ladies: Charlotte and Patsy.  I’d say Patsy is the feisty one, but they’re both pretty damn feisty.

feisty ladies
feisty ladies

First off, let me mention that the class is based on the book “Quilter’s Academy, vol 1” by Harriet & Carrie Hargrave.  A fact I failed to realize until the night before the last class session even though I had bought the book on my teacher’s recommendations – Note To Self: Pay Better Attention.  Second, while the book has some great information in it, I can’t express how fantastic Patsy and Charlotte were as instructors.  The book alone might have gotten me pretty far, but C&P were invaluable with their extensive personal quilting experience, practical explanations, demonstrations, and help – especially when I fucked things up.

One of the most interesting things I learned during this class was about straightening fabric and tearing to get on grain orientation – important for maintaining precision with your piecing blocks.  It was actually kind of fun tearing the fabric and showing it who is boss…

who's your daddy?
who’s your daddy?

Until I got into my batique fabric.  I was definitely not the boss then.

Why do you hate me?!
Why do you hate me?!

Side Note: Before this class I didn’t know what batique was.  I had run out of time to buy my fabrics for the course, so I hurriedly selected some fabrics at Sew Hut solely based on color.  Little did I know that although they are pretty, batiques are like the Siamese cat of quilting fabric – attractive, but evil.

I had a hell of a time straightening the batiques.  Honestly, those were the only times I freaked out and wanted to stab something with my rotary cutter.  Thank goodness for C&P – I’d bring in my batiques to class and they helped me sort that shit out.

Aside from the fabric squaring, everything else was pretty straightforward. I was introduced to chain stitching, proper ironing and pressing, etc. It is a fairly simple quilt, but I’ve been surprised at how long some of the steps take.

testing widths of 1/4" foot and pressing (sample block NOT good)
testing widths of 1/4″ foot and pressing (sample block NOT good)
For Patsy - she emphasized precision;)
For Patsy – she emphasized precision;)
sewing my strips
sewing my strips
Patsy showing proper technique - sass was optional
Patsy showing proper technique – sass was optional
it's clobbering time!
it’s clobbering time!
63 blocks ready to go
63 blocks ready to go
chain-stitching blocks
chain-stitching blocks
starting block assembly at home
starting block assembly at home
continuing to connect blocks under close supervision from C&P
continuing to connect blocks under close supervision from C&P

Last night was the final class session and the goal was squaring of the pieced block panel, and sewing the border on.  I’m not usually one for tooting my own horn (keep your euphemisms to yourself), but when we checked my top for squareness it was DAMN NEAR PERFECT.

I am god damn amazing. Charlotte is speechless by my perfection.
I am god damn amazing. Charlotte is speechless by my perfection.

I blame my innate stupendousness (and my wonderful teachers).

At this point, the quilt top is complete.

vury pretteh
vury pretteh

I need to piece the backing together, pin the 3 layers together, quilt the thing, and bind the edges.  No problem right?;)  My goal is 98% finished by June 27th (next Friday) – I’m planning on taking it to a Sew Hut social gathering to see my feisty teachers and show them my progress…  They said they have a few tricks left up their sleeves and I’m a sucker for magic.

dirty pillows

dirty couch pillows are a serious concern of mine. I know for a fact the dog drools on them, and I suspect she’s not the only one (cough*wife*cough cough).  So I decided to make pillow covers for some pre-made 16’x16″ unfinished pillows I bought at Joann Fabrics…

I still have oodles of fleece left, and some ideas kicking around, and I came up with these yellow on yellow bubble minky pillow covers.  they are very similar, so they match on the couch, but unique so I don’t get bored…

The first is just alternating stripes of fleece/minky with 3 buttons and a flap:

pillow #1 - stripes
pillow #1 – stripes
back of strips #1
back of strips #1

pillow #2 came about a week later and I played with using more scraps and trying some free-hand quilting of the fleece.

piecing scraps together
piecing scraps together

I think I over sew.  I kind of do a double stitch. these pillows will never come apart…

pillow #2 free hand quilting
pillow #2 free hand quilting
pillow #2 - buttons with the flap less flappy
pillow #2 – buttons with the flap less flappy

I consider these a success! and the dog thinks they are adequate.

dog tested, dog approved
dog tested, dog approved

the sun and the moon

I finished my second blanket this week.  I thought I’d finished it Monday, but I was mistaken… and, as it happens I’m not the only angry party this week…
I had done some testing of stitches and layers before starting the quilt
I had done some testing of stitches and layers before starting the quilt

It’s really kind of amazing what bothers us and what doesn’t.  I’ll sit out in the garage, gear oil dripping from my elbows, an open can of acetone next to me, spraying brake cleaner at a part and not even wrinkle my nose. But if the wife uses hair spray within 20′ of me, or applies the tiniest bit of perfume, suddenly I’m gagging and gasping for breath.  Turns out it goes both ways;)  I use spray adhesive to hold my applique pieces down and was applying it on the dining room table when the wife just about passed out in the kitchen.  A few open windows and harsh words later and all was well, but I got a secret chuckle in.

just after some spray adhesive and just before pinning the 2 sides together
just after some spray adhesive and just before pinning the 2 sides together
the 2 sides with the mirrored sun/moon, stars/birds pinned and ready for quilting.
the 2 sides with the mirrored sun/moon, stars/birds pinned and ready for quilting.

Karma’s a bitch.  That same adhesive, which says will come out in the washing machine, is a dirty fucking liar.  I must have gotten a bit of over spray on the field fabric, and then some dirt stuck to the fabric.  I wasn’t worried, it’ll wash out!  WRONG.  Time for the solvents.  I did some testing on scraps with rubbing alcohol and bing-bang-boom, the stain is gone, but it was very irritating.  The only good thing is that it gave me the time to reflect and decide I needed some additional “clouds”…

the "daylight" side with a sun and 2 frolicking birds
the “daylight” side with a sun and 2 frolicking birds
the "night" side with a moon and 2 stars made of bubble minky (it reminded me of craters on the moon)
the “night” side with a moon and 2 stars made of bubble minky (it reminded me of craters on the moon)

This was a pretty straight forward project, but I ran into some complications and consternation.  The delightful thread cone holder I had purchased gives me tension problems and has made winding bobbins a huge pain in the ass.

my new thread holder
my new thread holder

What I’ve had to do is wind a bobbin from the cone – see that it is all fucked up, and then use that bobbin to wind a different bobbin.  the second bobbin always comes out alright.  I’m not wasting any thread, but I am wasting time.  I’m going to go pick up some more bobbins and chat up my SEW Hut buddies for some tips…

Some closer details photos:

the spiral quilting goes through all four layers of fleece (the moon on the other side)
the spiral quilting goes through all four layers of fleece (the moon on the other side)
bubble minky star amongst the quilted clouds.  you can't really tell, but I used a different color for the daylight clouds and the night time clouds.
bubble minky star amongst the quilted clouds. you can’t really tell, but I used a different color for the daylight clouds and the night time clouds.

I just shipped this off to my good friend Diane this morning.  I can’t wait for her to get it:)

fleecy baby blanket.

Yes, I said fleecy baby blanket.

It may come as a shock to many, but people have babies.  My little sister just had a baby. My friends have babies. Babies freaking everywhere!  My mom made my sister a beautiful baby quilt this spring.  Now, I know from personal experience that my mom’s quilts are fucking fantastic, and are so nice you don’t want to risk damaging them.  That’s when I had the god. damn. brilliant. idea to make a delightful baby blanket that was virtually shit and puke proof.  A little internet research later and I had settled on a fleece/quilt/applique baby blanket.  My sewing experience up to this point was a (great) motorcycle seat and a “quilt” (with no batting) fit only for my dog.  But let it never be said that I know my limitations.

This also led to my first time going to a fabric store for actual fabric…  I bought WAY to much fabric (now everything I sew will be made from 5 different colors of fleece).

I created a design in my mind, took a few measurements and got to work.  Let me tell you, fleece is kind of a bitch.  The stretchiness gave me some problems during cutting as nothing wanted to stay square.  I’d be humming along cutting strips of fabric only to stop and notice I now had a pretty trapezoid shape rather than a square. Queue the swearing.  I trimmed edges and got things fairly square and decided to see how it impacted the design as I went.  This (first) blanket was more of a prototype anyway.  The stretching continued to give me problems, but I persevered.

"if it bleeds, we can kill it". Finishing the quilt and watching Predator. Boom.
“if it bleeds, we can kill it”. Finishing the quilt and watching Predator. Boom.

Everything seemed to be going alright until I got to the free motion part of the quilt.  I had skipped stitches, no stitches, broken bobbin thread, broken top thread, everything. Fuck! The wife and the dog hate it when I yell.  I finally got fed up and partially disasembled the machine.  I mean, hell, if I can take apart my bike, put it back together, and scream down the road at 90mph I can take apart a sewing machine.  jk.  I didn’t really take it apart. But I did open it up and lube everything – it made no difference.  Off to my sewing shop I went with partially finished quilt in hand.  The delightful people at Sew Hut promptly told me I was using the wrong needle and set me straight.

I can't help it. This is what I do.
I can’t help it. This is what I do.

The difference the different needle made was astounding.  No more problems, no more swearing and BOOM – the blanket was finished.

pieced 2 tone grey side with seams to the outside for texture
pieced 2 tone grey side with seams to the outside for texture
dark blue appliqued whales on a light blue field.
dark blue appliqued whales on a light blue field.
the free form quilting is supposed to be evocative of waves.
the free form quilting is supposed to be evocative of waves.

I washed it, wrapped it, and delivered it to my friends down the street. One baby done…

ready for delivery!
ready for delivery!

Not suitable for human consumption.

So I have this machine, but the first “how to use it” class isn’t for about 2 weeks… fuck it. Let’s light this candle.

shiny new Janome HD1000 that I don't know how to use
shiny new Janome HD1000 that I don’t know how to use

I have to give Janome credit – the manual for my machine is very good.  I read it cover to cover and busted the machine out.  The wife and I had done some fabric flowers for our wedding reception center pieces a few years ago so we had a bunch of miscellaneous fabric left over…

Quilts 2014-1542
about half done with the piecing. so far so good

I got to cutting and sewing and having a grand old time teaching myself to use my machine.  I had problems with inappropriate fabric, and I wasn’t about to go buy any new fabric yet, but I kept at it.  I ended up with a not-too-bad “quilt”.  I hadn’t used any batting for thickness, but I had done some nodes and straight line quilting and the thing was a very successful experiment.  I did have to bribe the dog into using it…

the dog would only lay on the quilt for a treat. traitor.
the dog would only lay on the quilt for a treat. traitor.