Monday, January 30, 2017

Quiltville Mystery Quilt 2016: The Reveal!

Just like the last few years, Bonnie Hunter is sharing her annual mystery quilt on her blog Quiltville. This year it is called En Provence! I participated the last couple years with Grand Illusion and then Allietare and really enjoyed the process. I've shared my weekly progress on clue #1clue #2clue #3, clue #4, clue #5, and clues #6 and clues #7. 
Once I saw the reveal I started to play with the block layout and all the puzzle pieces we'd been given. This is a great opportunity to play with the different building blocks and see what you can come up with. I really like Bonnie's En Provence design and I have been toying with making it in a different scale with batiks. I'll leave that for another day.
I decided that I didn't want to use all those low volume four-patches in a border. This is completely personal preference. I love the look of a scrappy border, but I'm not a fan of how easy it is to introduce a really wavy border with all those blocks unless they are pieced and sewn perfectly and were are an identical size. The 54 seams down one side is more than enough to cause all manner of problems. I chose instead to use them in the blocks to create a quite striking star.
If I were to choose the colors for this quilt again, I would not have left so much contrast between the dark blue and the light blue. I would have picked a dark and a medium. My light blue just reads almost equal with the low volume prints. I pieced these while working on other things.
 Slowly I finished the blocks and put them up. They are quite striking without the sashing blocks.
Then I added the sashings and corner squares so I could see where I was headed.
The sashing units are coming together nicely. I still have plenty of work ahead of me but I think I've made great progress.

A note from Bonnie on her blog Quiltville: "Clues will be available until February 1st, 2017.  After this date, the pattern will be available as a digital download in the Quiltville Store."

Friday, January 27, 2017

Knitting Update: Another Dotted Rays

I've cast on the first shawl of 2017. I know, I know. How many shawls does one person need? The answer is one. But since I still have yarn...
This yarn is Hawthorne from Knit Picks. I purchased a sampler pack a while back and when Stephen West put out his new pattern for another Dotted Rays shawl I grabbed these three cakes and came up with a plan. The pattern is Dotted Rays - Speckled Fade. Since I didn't have a collection of speckled yarn I went with this collection.The colors are different enough and similar enough.
This one starts out like a Dotted Rays and then uses stripes to blend the colors together. I had made one using two colors a while back but I wanted to give this method a try. If you have the original Dotted Rays pattern you can find a simple formula for making your fade on Ravelry.
I know it is a little strange but I like where it is going.
I still love this pattern. So simple and soothing! I also love an i-cord edge.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Quiltville Mystery Quilt 2016: Clue #6 and #7

After the holidays I got distracted and I just realized i hadn't updated for the last two clues and the reveal of En Provence! from Bonnie Hunter on her blog Quiltville. I participated the last couple years with Grand Illusion and then Allietare and really enjoyed the process. I've shared my weekly progress on clue #1clue #2clue #3, clue #4, and clue #5
Part six was where I got to learn how to use my rulers to make the quarter-square triangle blocks. I have to admit, I like these way more than I thought I would. The rulers (Easy Angle and Companion Angle) make these so easy and they do come out with the minimum of waste, and little trimming is required.
This almost-red orange is one of my favorites of this quilt. I was very pleased to find that I had more than a few of this dark color in my collection.
These piece up rather quickly.
I knew we were getting close to the reveal when my bin was almost overflowing.
Clue seven was more quarter-square triangle blocks.
All of the pieces stacked up and ready for the next step. Next time I'll share the reveal and my blocks.

As always, I've learned a few things from the mystery quilt experience. I highly recommend you take a chance on yourself at least once and try one of these quilts. Breaking any project down into manageable pieces like this takes the anxiety down a level and you would be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Note from Bonnie's blog Quiltville: "Clues will be available until February 1st, 2017.  After this date, the pattern will be available as a digital download in the Quiltville Store."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Starting Off the New Year with Charity Quilting

The first meeting of Annapolis Quilts for Kids was my opportunity to drop off this bag of finished quilts. These quilts were finished in 2016.
I picked up a couple kits, some scraps to make string quilts, enough 2.5" strips to make a jelly roll race quilt, two quilt tops with backings to finish, and some fabric for borders for string quilts. So many people contribute to Quilts for Kids by donating fabric. They are always looking for people to help with the sewing.
I picked mostly greens for the jelly roll race. I pieced together the top the same day.
I used part of my day on January 16th to quilt for Annapolis Quilts for Kids.
I quilted the two tops I had picked up and the green strip quilt. Not a bad start to the giving year.

2017 Charity Quilt Count: 3 
I'm just getting started!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Anchor Quilt: Quilting

I shared several steps of my process when making this wonderful quilt. First was fabric selection, then fabric cutting, and then piecing. The pattern is Anchor's Aweigh by Tula Pink, this is a free pattern.
After spending some time waiting to be quilted I finally loaded it onto the frame and got quilting. The background on this quilt just begged for waves to make the large negative space really shine. I couldn't say no. I quilted each section in a coordinating color thread. The turquoise, gray and pink sections each had their own color. Since I used very light colors for each of these I don't know that it made much of a difference.
My quilting is all hand-guided. No computers were forced into slavery to bring you these fun swirls.
The anchor itself was quilted with a simple design.
I really like the waves. The quilting took almost 10 hours over several days to complete.
Poor lighting isn't great for good photographs but I think you can see the quilting.
The binding was made with one of the prints used in the quilt. I finished the binding by machine. I didn't have an opportunity to take a photograph of the completed quilt before I handed it over to my friend. I'm hoping she shares photos of it after she gifts it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tool Tip: My New Iron

Last month I mentioned that my trusty iron had decided to give up the ghost. That poor iron had been a thrift store find. I had been using my Panasonic cordless iron for about a month and this past weekend I decided to pop over to one of the big box stores and buy a new reasonably priced iron.
My iron requirements are pretty simple. I want steam and a stainless steel sole plate. Since most irons have the first, all I have to do is make sure it also has the the second. Many of the really cheap (around $15-$20) irons have a non-stick coating. I have zero interest in one of those. The last non-stick iron didn't have a full coating by the time I was done with it. I had worn it off around the edges. Since then I always get the stainless steel sole plate.
I also really like the Black & Decker irons. They always hold up to how I use an iron, which is to turn it on and leave it on pretty much all day. Granted, the auto-shut-off will engage, but they heat quickly and I can get back to work. The burst of steam is nice, too.

Black & Decker Vitessa: $29.99

I'll let you know when it dies if it was worth the price.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Long Arm Quilting

In January of 2015 I was contacted about quilting a t-shirt quilt.

I have been trying to find someone that can do the quilting part of making a quilt. 

I'm making a large t-shirt quilt and would love to find someone that can quilt the 3 pieces together.  Do you do that?  If not, do you know anyone that does?

I don't have the measurements handy, but it's big enough for a queen size bed.  I have made one before and quilted it myself using a regular sewing machine.  It was tough squishing in the whole piece!  

I'd love to hear from you.

Best Regards,

I spent more than a little time working on my response and I don't think I ever shared it with the blog world. Note that I have not modified the text so the quoted prices for some things may no longer be valid. Check with the linked source for current pricing. 

Hello Liz,

Thank you so much for contacting me. I am a long arm quilter and I regularly quilt for Annapolis Quilts for Kids. I have made three t-shirt quilts for friends and I've attached a photo of one of those quilts. I'm not a professional long arm quilter. I don't have a business license and don't do my quilting as a business.  

Let me give you some information so you can make an informed decision on hiring a long arm quilter.  

There are a couple long arm quilting machine dealers in the area that offer the use of their machines for a fee.  You have to take their class to learn how to use the machine before you are allowed to rent time on the machine.  

Spring Water Designs in Columbia, MD, is a newer quilt shop that offers rental of their Handi-Quilter machines.  The beginning class is $60:

Capital Quilts in Gaithersburg, MD, has been around longer and also offers rental of their Handi-Quilter machines.  The training class is $50:

Tomorrow's Treasures is a shop in Crofton, MD, that offers long arm quilting service. I don't know their rates.

Maria O'Haver is a member of my quilt guild and is a professional long arm quilting artist. Her website gives her rates.

I know there are many more professional long arm quilters in the local area. If you ask at your local quilt shop they usually have business cards for long arm quilters. If you see machine quilted quilts on the walls of a fabric store it is very possible they can make a recommendation.

The rate for quilting similar to what is in this photo would be $0.015 to $0.02 per square inch.  If your quilt is 90" by 90" (about the size of a queen depending on how much bigger you wanted it to be) it would cost $121.50 to $162.00 to quilt it with a similar design. This rate does not include other services that some long arm quilters require. Some charge more depending on thread, some charge for bobbins (few do, but if they use pre-wound bobbins it is more common), almost all charge for thread color changes. Custom quilting will cost about twice those estimates for a queen-size quilt. 

How long it takes to get your quilt back from the quilter depends on the demand the long arm quilter has for their services. I've seen wait times of 2-4 weeks with some as long as 6 months due to a backlog of quilts from very desirable quilters.

Please, if you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask.  I know that these quilts are important to the maker and I want every quilter to have the best information available so they can make an informed decision.


Do you have questions about long arm quilting? I would be happy to try to help answer them. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Charlotte City Tote

Swoon Patterns had a sale a few months ago and I couldn't resist. I snapped up a couple patterns including the Charlotte City Tote.
I still had some glitter vinyl from Punkbroidery left over from another bag project so I decided I would test the pattern and my vinyl sewing skills. Swoon has a great tutorial for making your own piping but I had a single package of pre-made piping that worked for this project. I did pick up enough cord to make piping for my next piped project.
The pattern is clearly written and easy to follow. If you decide to try working with vinyl, I highly recommend you get the non-stick foot for your sewing machine. Having some freezer paper on-hand to keep the vinyl from sticking to the machine bed might be a good idea, too. Lengthen the stitch-length and take it slow is the best advice.
I'm pleased with the finished bag. I have learned (yet again) that I am overly picky when it comes to my preferred handbag. I like the bag. It just isn't one I would carry in my day-to-day life.

The nitty gritty details...
Pattern: Charlotte City Tote from Swoon Patterns
Fabric: Classic Sailor Tattoo Fabric (printed on Eco Canvas) by bella-modiste available on Spoonflower
Glitter Vinyl: Gray Silver glitter vinyl roll (12" by 54") from Punkbroidery
Bag hardware: Stainless Steel hardware (square rings, D-ring and swivel snap) from
All other materials are easily found at the big-box sewing/craft stores.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tool Tip: Magic Pressing Mat

My Darling Husband and I don't wait until the holidays to give each other things that we think the other will like. This past holiday season was no different.
DH did see this pressing mat on Massdrop and thought I might like it. It arrived before the holidays and I did put it to use.
The Magic Pressing Mat is a generous size (12" by 18") and does provide a nice surface for pressing. After some searching on the internet, I found a description that says it is made of wool felt fabric, though I couldn't find that information on the packaging. The packaging states "natural fiber construction". 
I will be using this. It provides a nice surface that will grip the fabric just a little to prevent pressing pieced blocks out of shape. It maintains heat, too.

The only thing I don't like is that it is only 12" on the short side. Many, many quilt blocks are 12.5" by 12.5" so you will have to reposition your blocks while pressing. Not a major problem. I just wish it was available in a larger, square size, say 18" by 18".

Monday, January 9, 2017

Release the Kraken!

I've had this cute little guy cut out and ready to sew for ages! This cuddly Kraken is so much fun. I had house guests and wanted a quiet project. This is what I accomplished during that time.
The details were sewn on by hand and then the pieces were assembled on the machine. Then back to hand-sewing for the finish. The results are worth the time.

The pattern is from Sew Desu Ne. If you want to try some fun fleece projects I recommend you check out all the site has to offer. Loads of free projects and tutorials for working with fleece. Once you have the basics down go find your favorite pattern and get stitching.

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 UFO Challenge

Many of the quilt shops near me support a UFO Challenge at the beginning of the year. Each is a little different but the idea is the same: Share a list of things you need to finish, each month they will pick a number, you work on that numbered project and get it done before the next number is announced. Some shops offer an entry in a drawing or a discount coupon for bringing in your finish to share with the shop. This year, I dug through my collection and shared a list of 12 UFOs with Spring Water Designs to join in the fun. Check out the full description of the Get it Done UFO Challenge on their blog.

I will admit that I had to stretch a little to find a dozen quilt projects that needed to be finished. I finished more than a few quilts in 2016. I just don't have many half-finished projects hanging around. I wanted to share my list so you can see where I started.
My 2017 Get it Done Challenge list:
1 - Quilter's Quest 2014 - This top has been complete for a while. I set it aside because I wasn't sure how I would quilt it. I'm still undecided, but I need to get it done. This is the deign from The Scrappy Apple.
2 - Zombie Jamboree - this throw-size quilt top has been hanging around waiting to be quilted, too. This one should be quick.
3 - Cherry Christmas - Yes, yes, more holiday fabrics. This one is going to be a tumbler quilt. 
4 - Kaffe Fassett Scrappy Mini - These scraps were left over from a larger quilt. I quilted it January 4th but it still needs binding. 
5 - Halloween Medallion - Like the holiday prints, my collection of fun Halloween prints continues to grow. I have been wanting to make a medallion quilt for a while and this seems like a good project for the ghosts and bats. Plenty here to play with different blocks. UPDATE: This quilt is finished. Read about this one in Part 1 and Part 2.
6 - Heart Quilt - I had one less-than-perfect heart left over from the Quilts for Pulse project. I have some leftovers from other projects that will be perfect for more hearts. The real goal is to get through this bin of scraps from other projects. The heart quilt will be a bonus! Free heart block pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew!
7 - Vivid Pink - This photo doesn't do this pink justice. Trust me, it's much brighter in person. This quilt has been done for months and I found the perfect flannel backing, too. I just need to quilt and bind it. Quilt made using the Super Sidekick ruler from Jaybird Quilts. UPDATE: This quilt was finished and posted in this blog post
8 - Tropical Garden - I got in a rush putting the binding on this quilt and now I need to finish the binding by hand. I would have just finished it by machine, but I attached it to the front of the quilt instead of the back. Sounds like a great project to take along to the next guild meeting. 
9 - Reindeer Games - This one is read to be quilt and bound. UPDATE: This quilt has been finished! Read about it in this blog post.
10 - En Provence - Isn't going to be a quick project, but here it is on the list. 2016 Mystery Quilt designed by Bonnie Hunter.
11 - Firefly - This mini quilt has also been waiting for me to decide on quilting and get it done. Paper pieced lettering designed by Sam Hunter. Check out her amazing book Quilt Talk
12 - Batman - I bought this kit ages ago and just hadn't gotten around to finishing it. I picked up some fun backing fabric and aim to get it done!
Bonus: Charming Quilt, because I might find time to make something with this huge stack of charms I have built up. I often cut my scraps into sizes I will use later. This means I have stacks of 5" charms, bins of 2.5" strips, and drawers full of 2.5" stamps. This pile is getting out of hand. How hard can it be to sew a bunch together?

Have you made a list of projects for the coming year? Is your space overflowing with projects half done? Pull some out and make a plan!