Avery’s Challenging Quilt

It seems that every year I have that one quilt which just gives me absolute fits. This quilt took on a life of its own, throwing curve balls at me nearly every step of the way. Why, I don’t know. It was a simple pattern! It dared me to finish it. Hopefully it’s my “rebellious” quilt for the year, and it’ll be smooth sailing until next year, lol. My dear niece, Stephanie, asked me to make a quilt for her daughter, Avery, for her new room. I’m always humbled when someone in my family thinks highly of my quilting skills and trusts me to make one for them. Of course I will!

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Stephanie and Avery

Avery is 8 years old, and wanted a chevron quilt. A queen-sized quilt. The biggest quilt I’ve made to this point (I like lap-size quilts!). She also wanted to pick out her own fabrics. Mom and Avery went shopping at Hobby Lobby, and this is what I received:

IMG_2449_edited-2Kids pick out the darndest things, don’t they?? However, I learned long ago that kids have no color filter, no preconcieved notions, and don’t have a clue as to what “color theory” is. What they choose usually comes together beautifully! The only fabric that concerned me was the multi-stripe, as I was afraid that it was so bold and might overpower the other fabrics in a large bed quilt – and the other fabrics pretty much read as solids. I talked to Stephanie, and we agreed the multi-stripe would look best as a bias binding on the quilt. A little of this fabric will go a long way in the look of the quilt.

I worked up the quilt in EQ, sent several pics to them and together they picked out a layout. I blanch at the thought of triangles (man, how I despise all those bias edges!) and opted to use a pattern that used rectangles on-point instead. Let’s just leave it at it’s always a good thing to measure twice, cut once. With every cut, lol.

IMG_2681_edited-1After sewing several blocks together backwards (how does that happen with rectangles??), I finished the quilt top. It looks great! Avery did a fantastic job picking out fabric. I laid the entire thing out on the backing to prepare for loading on the frame:

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Uh-oh…..

Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Now, I had made the top larger than necessary on the sides so I had plenty of trimming room, but only an inch or two on the top and bottom. Peggi and I commiserated on what to do about this problem. Do I chance it? Once that backing was on the frame it would stretch a bit, but what if it didn’t work? She asked several other LA quilters she knew for ideas (which were all great, mind you!). One of her friends said it would be no problem – she’d worked with less before! Are you kidding me???? I’d be hyperventilating the entire time I was quilting if I had even less to work with! But when all was said and done I decided to just order another longer backing. I’d already had enough angst and didn’t treasure the thought of trying to add backing when it came up short on the frame. Plus, I found a small flaw in the fabric. Heck. I’ll just keep that piece for one of my quilts. Peggi, I don’t know what I’d do without you to talk things through. It was definitely a Cap’n Morgan and 7-Up evening….

****And may I just interject here that quilt shops in Columbus leave much to be desired. The shops are small, they all have the same fabrics, and barely carry any widebacks (usually no more than 5 or 6 per store, and usually traditional paisley stuff),  I had to order backing online, which I hated because I want to see and feel the fabric. Sigh. I SO miss Shipshewana!

So, after another 5 day wait for the backing, I finally loaded it on the frame:

IMG_2780_edited-1Yikes! I knew it was gonna be a big quilt! My frame is only 9′, and it barely fit. Changing bobbins was a gymastic exercise. I wasn’t able to use my ruler base because of the width of the quilt. Which made quilting those straight lines tricky. I tried to keep the quilting simple because I was space-restricted. I couldn’t use my end clamps, and at one point ended up with this mess:

IMG_3887 editedLuckily, it was in part of the edge that would be trimmed off. I was extremely careful quilting the rest of the quilt! The quilting went quite well – the longarm gods were with me. I used Quilter’s Dream Cotton Select batting and Glide thread, and that thread is an absolute dream to work with. Trimmed it up, rounded the corners and sat in my favorite chair with needle, thread and several movies to keep me company.

IMG_2785_edited-1Finished up that bad boy in two days. I wanted it done – I was terrified something else was going to happen to it! I can finally say it’s finished, and it looks absolutely wonderful! That striped binding adds a pop of color to it, but isn’t overwhelming.

IMG_8493_edited-1Avery's quiltLessons learned: 1) Measure, measure, measure before cutting! 2) Do NOT do another queen-sized quilt on this frame until new poles are added to extend it to 10 feet. Six extra inches on each side would’ve been dreamy. 3) Quilter’s Dream batting wants to “creep” the the center as I’m quilting – be sure to check it with each advance! 4) Kids really do surprise you with their colors. 5) Be persistent (and add alcohol occasionally) – it will all come together in the end!

All in all, while I had a few frustrating moments, it turned out just wonderful. I’m always most proud of the quilts that challenge and push my limits – even when those challenges and limits are my own damn fault. I can’t wait to see it on Avery’s bed. Thanks, Steph, for believing in my talent!

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Weaving finished

Well, it took a while…

weave 2abut I got all the weaving done.

weave 3It was easy but time-consuming.

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weave 6Done!  Whew!

trimI trimmed it and stitched the raw edges.  The glue holds it together nicely, but since this was so labor-intensive, I didn’t want any risk of the weaving coming undone.

stitching edges Several years ago I made this bag for my laptop.  It’s worked very well, but it’s a hair too small.  It fits just my laptop and nothing else, and the flap should have been longer.

orig bagI want something big enough for my laptop, a binder, a couple of notepads, pens, and other office accoutrements.  I decided this weaving project would be a cool replacement for my original bag.

bag fabricBummer! I started this wild-hair weaving project before I really knew what I wanted to do with it, and I didn’t make it big enough to work as a replacement laptop bag.  So I’ll put the woven fabric aside for a while, until I stumble across a different use for it.

I don’t feel that my efforts were wasted, however.  I learned a lot, had some fun, and will probably make another woven project soon!

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She finally made one…..

IMG_8073_edited-2Back in 2013, I wrote a beginners t-shirt quilt tutorial for a few of my relatives who live far away. My cousin, Tanya, finally made hers! Her daughter is a cheerleader, so she laid Juliet’s t-shirts out in chronological order to “build” her quilt.

We had a blast Facebook messaging back and forth during the process. It was her first quilt, and – understandably – she had a lot of questions. Tanya was SO excited about making it, and would message me every step of the way. And I was determined to teach her as much as I could right from the beginning, even if it was over messaging! Everything from prewashing to the essential supplies she’d need to the binding stitches. Get it right the first time, and there will be no “unlearning”! She did learn the hard way – and early! – about rotary cutters, though….

Tanya's fingerHere’s one of my favorite messages I got from her. She had fun!Screen shot 2015-04-18 at 6.43.43 AM_edited-1

I offered to quilt the quilt for her, so she shipped it off to me. Tanya did a wonderful job for her first quilting experience! She wanted a polka-dot backing, so I placed an order for Riley Blake’s polka dots from Backside Fabrics. What a wonderful company. Extremely friendly and very fast delivery. My order came quickly, and the quilt was soon on the frame.

quilt on frame copyI opted to quilt it quite simply – SID and FMQ:

IMG_8077_edited-2I offered to apply her binding and make her label – but she’ll do it from now on. She was pressed for time as she wanted to give it to Juliet before her next cheer competition. I made an instructional video and sewed about 6″ of the binding so Tanya would know how to do her corners, and sent it on back to her. She spent an entire evening and the next day finishing up the binding, washed it up and was able to give Juliet her new quilt as they were preparing to leave for the competition:

JulietsquiltShe loves it! I also quilted her name into the quilt (a great identifier in case it’s lost or stolen!) and she’s still searching for it, lol.

Still searching for that hidden name....

Still searching for that hidden name….

….and now has a new cuddly “friend”….

Juliet snuggleTanya found a quilt shop just down the street from where she lives that offers “do-it-yourself” quilting on their longarm machines. She excited for the next quilt to be done 100% on her own. She’s a big scrapbooker and crafter, so she likes to do everything herself! It was fun watching a “newbie” learning to quilt – we had a blast together!

Cindi 100Way to go, Taunie!!  It looks great!  It is so much fun sucking new people into our obsession hobby, isn’t it, Cin?

I’m sooooo green that Tanya has a shop nearby where she can rent time on a longarm.  What an awesome way to learn.

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Feeding my quilting obsession

IMG_3819That’s what my cousin, Tanya, did for me – she fed my obsession. She lives in California, I live in Ohio. She wanted to make a t-shirt quilt, so I wrote this tutorial for her and some other family members who live far away. Well, two years later (and 500 Facebook messages, LOL!) she’s made one! I can’t show it yet, as she hasn’t given it to the recipient…I never ruin a surprise. I offered to quilt it for her, so she mailed it off to me.

We also started talking about what supplies she’d need for quilting. I mentioned that the Wonder Clips were great for more than just binding. I also use them for marking seams to sew, holding folded edges together on bag handles while sewing, etc. She Googled them and found these craft clips from Hayley Cherie. When I mentioned I’d be putting them on my wish list as they were cheaper than the Wonder Clips, the next day they showed up on my doorstep, along with this message:

IMG_3826To be honest, this little message alone is a much bigger gift. It not only means that I helped her, it means that I passed on a craft and became a “teacher”. What bigger gift is there than that?

But please…feel free to feed the obsession anytime 😉

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Country color quilt finished!

Remember the post I did in February about that country fabric that jumped in my cart? Well, the quilt is finished and although it’s not my favorite colors, it did turn out surprisingly beautiful.

IMG_7949_edited-1The quilting, while repetitive (and after a while, quite boring!) was surprisingly simple and forgiving. I was going a bit “loopy” after a while. Bwaaa-haaa-haaa! I crack myself up sometimes. Hey – the voices in my head thought that was funny.

IMG_7960See how forgiving this quilting is? No matter how thick or thin I quilted those loops, it looks great. I almost like the back better than the front! The quilting enhanced this rather dull quilt and made it beautiful! Shoot, I can’t stop looking at the back. It’s almost prettier than the front.

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No, the edges aren’t wavy. It’s clumpy grass that’s not been cut yet this year – still a bit early to mow!

This was great practice for me, since I did the same pattern throughout the quilt. I had planned to give it as my Girl’s Club Christmas Exchange gift, but our group decided we’d rather try becoming millionaires and had a blast scratching off eighty $1 lottery tickets instead. And won $36. No quilt machine upgrade for me, LOL! Instead, I will give it to Shirley, who I wrote about in this post. I can’t think of a better person to receive it. She has created a memory that will always make me smile. And remind me why I quilt.

IMG_7984_edited-2I pat myself heartily on the back as I say I absolutely rock at perfect binding corners…..and the crowd goes wild in awe and amazement…..

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I love this quilt – especially how you quilted it!  It’s kind of cool how such a simple design can look so pretty.  I think the loops compliment the triangles beautifully!

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I got a wild hair

I started a new project, because apparently I just can’t have enough UFOs.

This was inspired partly by this woven pillow cover I made a couple of years ago, and partly by a gorgeous woven leather handbag that I saw in a store.  It was gorgeous but hoooo boy, very expensive!

I bought some lightweight denim and cut it into 1″ strips.

cuttingRan the strips through a bias maker.

binding toolI’d started out with putting a 1/4″ strip of fusible web in the center, but I ran out of it, so I resorted to starching the strips, then moved on to using Elmer’s glue.

Elmer’s has this neat little glue tube.

glue 1 It dispenses a thin line of glue at one end…

glue 2…and a wider one at the other end, with a tip that spreads the glue evenly and thinly.  It worked perfectly for my strips.

glue 3Next, I lined up the strips on a 45° angle and taped them down with duct tape.  Ha!  Never thought I’d use duct tape in a sewing project, but I was wrong!

weave 1My husband got curious when he saw me with his roll of duct tape in hand, so he came to see what I was doing.  After observing me for a few minutes, he dryly pointed out that although this is a quilting blog, there didn’t seem to be much sewing involved in this project.  He then asked me if I was going to swipe his WD-40 also.  I pointed out that not only do I know where he sleeps, I also cook his dinner.  He was quick to bring me a glass of wine and a slice of chocolate cake.

Next up:  I’m ready to start weaving!

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Green

A while back, twelve members of my quilting group decided they wanted to explore art quilting.  We decided to make one 12″ by 12″ quilt a month, with each member picking a theme that the rest of us could then interpret into a quilt.

Our first theme was “Green”.  I spent a lot of time contemplating ideas and designs for Green.  There are several possible interpretations; money, jealousy, earth-friendly, color.  I had a great idea for jealousy but I could not make it work in such a short period of time.  I knew a couple other members of my group were going with money and recycling ideas.  So I chose to simply feature the color, but I wanted to do something unexpected, something you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with “green”.

I made a green zebra.

s2b 1It was fun and surprisingly easy to make!  I browsed copyright-free images on the internet, found a zebra, cropped it to what I thought was an interesting perspective, and printed it out on freezer paper.  Since the paper is only 8.5″ by 11″, I couldn’t fill the whole width of the quilt with the image, but in the end I decided that this non-standard framing also added interest.

I ironed the freezer paper on the front of my green fabric, ironed fusible web on the back,  and spent a happy hour pretending I was back in Mrs. McGee’s first grade class, cutting out green zebra stripes.  I ironed it onto a solid white background and fused a stabilizer to the backing to support the stitching and give the quilt some stiffness, so it would hang nicely.  Then I sandwiched the quilt with batting as usual, and quilted it with a zigzag stitch in metallic green thread all around the raw edges.  I wanted it to be subtle but sparkly.  I contemplated further quilting in the white areas, but in the end I decided it would distract from the main image.

s2b 4I’ve never been much of an art quilt fan; I think there are maybe 20 art quilts I’ve seen that I actually liked.  And I’m not much of an artist, either.  I can’t draw, paint, sketch, etc.  I have no sense of perspective and I can’t figure out how to illustrate light and shadows well.  But for some reason, when I was asked if I wanted to participate in this art quilt challenge, I said yes.  And I’m really glad I did!  I surprised myself by accepting a challenge to do something I didn’t think I’d like doing.  And then I surprised myself even more by actually enjoying the entire process and being proud of my final product!

How about you?  Have you ever challenged yourself to do something you didn’t think you’d enjoy, only to discover you actually had fun?

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 I love the quilt! The metallic thread really brings it to life. And I love the way you thought “outside the box” and didn’t make the first green thing that came to mind. I did challenge myself to do a portrait quilt, thinking it would be the hardest thing ever. I don’t do well with color theory, and making the quilt helped me learn color-matching. Instead of being hard, it was thrilling watching the portrait come together! Your quilts always amaze me – the thought your truly put into them – and because of you I always step up my game when I’m preparing a quilt. You’re my quilting “hero”, and I love to surprise you with something you’re not expecting from me!

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Diagonal Quilt Back Tutorial

I love John Flynn’s method of making a quilt back (it’s about halfway down the page on the link). It uses less fabric, and avoids a straight seam in the center of a quilt, which is a pain when trying to longarm. He has a PDF to calculate the yardage needed,and if you suck at math like I do, he’s also got a great app that figures out the calculation for you – well worth the $1.99. But instructions on exactly how to do this were nowhere to be found. When I made my Australia t-shirt quilt I used this method for the backing, and remembered to take pictures of how I did it. Hopefully this will help some others who are trying it out for the first time. A couple of tips: Having a helper will make this process SO much easier. Trying to do the diagonal fold by myself was quite taxing! Also, look at the selvage of the fabric you’re considering. If the selvage edge is quite thick with no print on it, reduce your width of fabric in your calculation. You don’t want to end up with selvage in your quilt!

Step One: Take your full length of fabric and fold it diagonally from corner to corner.

fold fabricStep Two: Cut along the diagonal fold. This is the scariest part. That’s a LOT of fabric to cut, and you’re thinking “No way can this work!” and how you’re gonna kick yourself in the arse if it doesn’t because that’s a lot of money you just spent on this backing. But take a deep breath and just CUT. If your calculations were correct when you bought the fabric, this will work. Cut the fabric!

cut fabric2Step Three: Open the fabric.

Unfold fabric

Ignore the man in the work work boots. That’s a cutout of Taylor Lautner from the Twilight series. We made him a cheerleader and gave him pom-poms, lol.

Step Four: Skooch the fabric. Move one side down and you’ll see the backing magically get wider. Once again, two people make this job SO much easier!

skooch fabricStep Five. Carefully lay your quilt on top of the fabric, and keep skooching and checking until the backing completely shows underneath the quilt. And remember, you’re going to lose 1/2″ in your seam allowance, so be sure to allow for that. Since I longarm my quilts I needed extra backing area, so I adjusted my backing to give me the four extra inches on each side that I’d need.

Check for sizeStep Six: Once you’ve skootched to size, just fold and sew along that seam line, and cut off the corner triangles. That’s it!

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My skills have definitely improved…..

I belong to “The Girl’s Club”, a group of 8 girls who have been getting together for over 25 years. Way, way back, when I first started quilting, I made 7 small tablerunners for each of our mothers for Mothers Day. They were given to them when we took all of our mom’s out for tea lunch to celebrate.  Yesterday, we attended the 80th birthday party for one of those mothers, Shirley, and as soon as I walked in the door she grabbed my hand and said “I’ve got something special to show you”. There, on a display table with all the photographs from her childhood, was the tablerunner she received at that lunch. It brought tears to my eyes. Although I don’t often see Shirley, she always makes a point to say how much she cherishes that little tablerunner, and displays it proudly. THIS is why I quilt.

I took a few pitiful phone pictures of it, and boy have I learned a lot since those first days of quilting!

IMG_2594-1Oh my. Look at how wavy it is! The binding is about 10 different sizes, and look at those corners. The blocks were paper-pieced, so they look pretty darn good though. The stripes even go the right way!

IMG_2592-1_edited-2I obviously hadn’t learned the importance of pressing yet. There are gaps at nearly every seam. Nor did I know what “stitch in the ditch” was, as it surely could’ve used it. My binding. Oh my goodness, look at those huge stitches! I’m betting you could almost stick your pinkie finger underneath. Even funnier, look at how skinny the binding is here, and how wide it is in the picture below…..

IMG_2593-1_edited-1ROFL!!!! I think it was almost an inch wide on the back! I had put a sleeve on each one in case the mom’s wanted to hang them up. Do ya think I’d use the matching thread to sew those? Noooooo….let’s make that stitching stand out!!

IMG_2592-1_edited-1And you can see the loooong hand stitching in that pink fabric. Yes, I hand quilted these – it was long before I learned to machine stitch when quilting the quilt! And even funnier….

IMG_2593-1You can also see a bit of the hand stitching on the back. Man-oh-man, about every stitch length available there. And in every direction known to man.

It was great to observe this little quilt after so many years. My gradual improvements are hard to see over the years. I’m proud of how I’ve progressed!

The most gratifying thing is that this simple quilt, with all it’s mistakes, is adored and cherished by this lovely woman. She appreciates the work that went into it, even though I was a beginner. These little moments remind me that my quilts bring true joy!

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