Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Free Motion Quilting Practice

"The American people must understand that as soon as America doesn't stand for something in the world, there is going to be a tremendous erosion of freedom. It is true. And yet, it is awful hard to convince people of it at home."
~George H.W. Bush

From time to time I remember to check my YouTube subscriptions. Recently Angela Walters started a new series called, Help! How Do I Quilt It? which I've found helpful. She is extremely organized yet friendly and funny. She created a panel printed with all the blocks she discusses quilting over the series and sells thread and other tools. And then she taped these videos that are freely available. I really, really, really don't need another project so I didn't purchase the panel {That would have been too easy.} so I was just watching them randomly.

Angela's first video discussed nine patches and oh, how I wished for a small quilt to practice. Then I recalled these blocks from a trade many years ago. I sewed them into two baby-sized tops last year but all the solids gave me the willies so I put it away.

Small nine-patch blocks alternate with cadet blue, bright red, and tan solid fabric blocks and highlight a variety of free motion quilting.
Four-Patch Nine-Patch baby quilt with quilting ideas from Angela Walters videos

Angela showed several ways to quilt the block but she returned to the start each time since that worked best for her panel. Mine was already sewn and I wanted to travel from one block to the next to avoid starts and stops. Also, my nine-patches are "backwards" so I wanted the x's in the corners.

It took half the day marking the vinyl {the best idea to practice quilting designs I've ever found} but I finally figured out how to do it. Here's a diagram of my variation of Angela's design. There are nine pictures on this graph going across and then down {with space between each picture.}

Traveling nine-patch quilting design based on Angela Walters video will move across the quilt without stopping. No need to tie and bury threads.
Traveling nine-patch quilting design based on Angela Walters videos

Since Angela was so gracious to film videos, I don't want to reiterate all her details. This is just a reminder to myself of the order I quilted the nine patches. Go watch her series. It's fabulous. But my version moves me across each block so I can quilt them diagonally.

And here's a photo of the front and back of my quilt after completing all the nine patches. You'll notice only two of the corners have x's. The others could be done by sewing a diagonal line the other way across the quilt. It's the only way I could figure to allow me to end up on the opposite side of the quilt without backstitching.

Two collaged photos show orange peel FMQ in progress from the front and back of the quilt.
Nine-patch quilting based on Angela Walters design

All that and the large solid squares are still not done.

After watching her video again I decided to add quilt the red and blue squares with dot-to-dot on one side and continuous curve on the other. Angela had one more line of dot-to-dot but again, I wanted to travel across the block rather than finish at the starting point.

Then I framed the tan squares and used curves I call figure eights but Angela calls wishbone. Her wishbones have much smaller curves; something to work on. The last four squares on the middle of each side seemed to need a centered design so I created my own variation as Angela. It did end up back at the start but it's on the edge. No threads to bury.

This photo shows all the quilting but you'll notice none of the squares are SID.

wo collaged photos show finished point-to-point FMQ from the front and back of the quilt.
Quilting designs on Four-patch Nine-patch quilt

Angela and I both have a compulsion to keep those seams from coming loose. So my final step was to take care of those long seams. I used the walking foot. Usually SID is my first step. Doing it last meant this was not as neat as one could hope. Lesson learned.

It's a lot of quilting and took more time than I usually spend on a baby quilt but the point was to practice her methods. Learning new skills always takes more time.

The forest green back of the quilt highlights all the quilting designs.
Quilting designs on Four-patch Nine-patch quilt with stitch-in-ditch added between blocks

Changing colors on the different squares meant there were several threads to bury. I have two drawers of thread and none of them are tan. But as part of my clean-it-out kick I chose to use what's on hand. The grey was too stark against the red and blue squares so I changed threads.

There was just enough red remaining to bind the quilt. The back looks a bit Christmasy but it matches the red on front.

I learned new ways to think about quilting, tried several new designs and feel more confident. This one can go on the baby quilt stack... you know, the one I've spent half a year trying to build up.

A darker red solid binds the Four-patch Nine-patch quilt
Binding detail

Quilt Specifics
Size: 40" x 40"
Design: Four-patch nine-patch
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: grey, red and blue Gutermann 50 wt cotton
Quilting: FMQ based on Angela Walters videos and walking foot SID
Approximate Yardage: 4 yd 

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
For my records, October saw three finished quilts = 17.75 yds, one shirt = 3.5 yds, and 2 yards donated for a total of 23.25 yards.

After my niece's baby shower we visited the George H.W. Bush library in College Station which none of us had seen before.

Front view of the library includes a large fountain surrounded by eight flagpoles flying American flags.
George H.W. Bush Library

With much more land than his son's at SMU so there is room to add Air Force One when it's retired as well as the engine that carried his body here. George, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, are buried nearby.

The museum is chronologically arranged with sequential rooms for various stages of his life. Interestingly, a section of the Berlin wall was gifted to the library by the citizens of Berlin. This side faced West Germany while the other side is completely blank. They are spread worldwide. I've seen other sections at Rice University in Houston, Montreal, and Mountain View, California. Have you seen any?

The West Berlin side of the wall is painted in multi-colors and includes the word Vision.
A section of the Berlin Wall

A room dedicated to the Gulf war held the Gate of Kuwait. The hundred-year-old door is framed with plates bearing the names of American service members killed in that conflict and contains this inscription:

The names of all American lives lost in the Gulf War are engraved on the gate.
Gate of Kuwait
"When a man gives you the key to his home it means you are the best and most valuable friend to him; when a man gives you the door to his home it means that you are one of his family."

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone connects with family or friends - whether in person, writing, voice or video.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pastel Hourglasses

"Today there are those who travel by sea to new lands, hoping for a new life. 
They are likely to find themselves locked up or locked out.... 
How would all our lives be if the original [European settlers] were sent back?"
~Kathy Doughty

A niece is expecting her first child and decorating in very soft pink, green, grey, and white. The quilt needs to be finished before the baby shower. Time to get cracking. I purchased this charm pack a while ago for a specific reason. After making a quilt with brights I wondered what it would look like in pastels. Now I have the opportunity to find out.

A collage of two photos shows the 5-inch charm pack combined with a variety of pastel solids from my stash.
Charm pack of pastel Kona solids

Although I've never been a fan of precuts {it was a difficult road for me to accept fat quarters and that was about as small as I've been willing to purchase} what I like about this method is the way the pack expands the results of a smaller collection of solid yardage.

I cut WOFs of all {six} light/pastel solids in my stash and crosscut them into five-inch squares {like the pack.} Each charm was paired with a "non-charm" to spread the WOFs across the most fabrics. I.e., make the most variations of the pairs available. It was easy to keep straight because the charms are pinked. Only when the charms ran out did I pair WOF with other WOFs. Make sense?

The pairs were cut into QSTs and sewed into hourglasses so there are two blocks from each pair. Then I moved them around on the design wall for a while. Random worked out as a better layout than the color sweeps of the previous quilt. Did anyone else ever read Ann McCaffrey's Crystal Singer trilogy? After Killashandra Ree goes to a planet for work, her eyes become much more sensitized to color. Ok. There's a lot more to the story than this but these soft colors that aren't photographing well remind me of that minor plot detail.

 3.5-inch hourglass blocks are placed on the design wall as they are sewn and pressed.
Hourglass blocks on the design wall

Again I simply SID to quilt it which lets the fabric shine, especially after a bit of shrinkage from a gentle wash and dry.

 White and grey lawn mixes with with pastel Kona solids from both a charm pack and my personal stash.
Pastel hourglass baby quilt

The back is one piece of lovely white lawn extended with a strip of pink. So soft! The baby will love it.

The quilt is folded so the the white lawn back is visible. A stripe of pink solid fabric runs across the back to add interest.

Grey lawn creates the binding.

The folded quilt shows the front, back, and grey lawn binding. The stitch-in-the-ditch quilting shows better on the back.
Binding detail on pastel Hourglass baby quilt

It's certainly the softest I've ever made - not only the colors but the finely woven lawn feels like loving kisses. So this baby will be wrapped in a cloud.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42" x 42"
Design: Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose
Thread: 60-wt pale pink Aurifil cotton thread 
Quilting: SID with walking foot
Approximate Yardage: 4 yds

True Confessions

To my mother's dismay I've always been very hard on shoes and gloves. QS gave me a pair of quilting gloves which I promptly put holes in. On a whim I put on a NEW pair of gardening gloves and have been using them for two years. They are a bit thick but really grasp the quilt. No holes and they were much cheaper than the specialty quilting gloves. 

New rubberized, turquoise gardening gloves allow better control while machine quilting on a domestic machine.
Use new gardening gloves to machine quilt
Off the Bookshelf

The cover shows the title in large red type with a subtitle: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou has been on my hold list at the library for a while and it's finally my turn. Begun as a series of investigative articles it relates the rise and fall of Theranos whose founder, Elizabeth Holmes, claimed to have created a way to run many lab tests from a single drop of blood.

One of the interesting takeaways is that none of the board members had significant medical expertise. I'd never considered the need to take a step back and think about the hurdles every company faces - regulatory, industry sector, financial. Does a company have employees to meet those needs and does their board have sufficient depth to govern/oversee their efforts? Private companies have more problems in this area because they may not have the advice and experience of a knowledgeable, widely-skilled board.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Rose Quilt is Finally Finished

"If you want to hear the sound of God's laughter, just tell Him your plans."

I like to pretend there aren't a bunch of quilt tops waiting to be quilted but cleaning the sewing room out brought them to the surface. No more kidding myself. One is the Rose quilt {last worked on September 2018. Yikes!} Why did this pretty quilt end up stuffed in a dark corner?

Truthfully FOMMWQ {fear of making a mistake while quilting} hit hard. Every idea became much too complicated. Despite my trepidation, the stems were easy - just some FMQ loops...  until running out of green thread. And you know how hard it is to purchase more. Hahaha.

Still, quilting the roses became an ever-larger nightmare. McTavishing seemed like it would make petal-like curves. Great idea but heavy stitching might make the quilt stiff or make it pull oddly if everything else wasn't quilted equally closely. So I warted and worried it to death then gave it a quick burial in the closet. Guilt arose each time it was opened.

Chinese Coin background with three large red roses of improvisational log cabin piecing. The stems and leaves are green batik applique.
Chinese Coins with Roses quilt

This past week it occurred to me that the roses could be an improv challenge. Remember Kaja's flower post? Ok, there are several flowery ideas running through my mind but at the rate I'm going it may be next year before there's time to work on them.  So...

After watching YouTube videos by Karen herself and Leah Day, I found Amy Johnson whose curlicues spoke to me. About the same time I realized the quilting could be spaced further apart. {Too soon old and too late smart.} A few hours practicing the technique with dry erase marker on my vinyl overlay gave me the confidence to begin again.

Photos of these overlays on top of the quilt didn't show well so here they are against the design wall. This is a practice rose.

Quilting design sketched on plastic overlay using a black marker.
Larger scale spirals and McTavishing with a marker

The result of facing fear is often the discovery that it's not that difficult. Nike is right. Just Do It!

Serpentine FMQ mimics petals on the roses.
Detail of quilting the roses

Two sections down; only the background left to fill. Julie's combination of fans and flowers would make a garden of flowers for the roses to emerge from...  and they could use more flowers in their garden. ;-)

In the first attempt petals curved and hopped. Unfortunately, I'm a hopper. My curves get out of control quite easily.

FMQ mixing flowers, spirals, and fans sketched on plastic overlay in black marker.
Mixing flowers, spirals, and fans in FMQ

After several iterations, my flower petals are much shorter, more like scallops. And most of my fans turned into spirals. Fans or spirals. Both seems okay. My main takeaway from all the practice is that the flower petals should not overlap. A few peeking through the arcs seems better.

FMQ mixing more flowers, spirals, and fans sketched on plastic overlay in black marker.
More flowers, spirals, and fans in FMQ

The light blue thread was very hard to see but slowing my speed kept me from crossing quilting lines.  It only took two days to complete the quilting. After a quick wash and dry the quilt crinkled beautifully. {This is why I love Mountain Mist batts. The shrink just enough. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.}

There was just enough blue gingham print (not yarn dyed) for the binding. Well, one skinny strip went into the scrap bag.

Folded quilt highlights the binding and the front of the quilt.
Gingham binding on Chinese Coins with Roses quilt

Previous posts:
  1. Attempting to Applique the Roses
  2. Adding Pieced Roses
  3. Strewing Roses
  4. Adding Stems and Leaves
  5. Top Done
The back is a conglomeration of floral fabrics to echo the pieced ones on front.

Eight floral prints combine to make the back.
Back of Chinese Coins with Roses quilt

Quilt Specifics
Size: 59" x 52"
Design: Chinese Coins with improv pieced roses
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: green, red and blue Gutermann 50 wt cotton
Quilting: FMQ loops, spirals, fans, and flowers
Approximate Yardage: 8.5 yd 
(guesstimate because mainly scraps)

Off the Bookshelf

Quilts in the Cotswalds by Kaffe Fassett and Organic Appliqué by Kathy Doughty/At the library this week I found two, count 'em TWO, new quilt books and snagged both to read. Quilts in the Cotswalds by Kaffe Fassett and Organic Appliqué by Kathy Doughty are thoughtful reads with my morning coffee. I want to return to large scale prints and these both encourage that. Reading about creative methods sparks new ideas of our own {or you can follow their designs.} These books even have coordinating covers.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A New Face to the World

"We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate."
~Thomas Jefferson

I voted today. Did you? Make time to quilt and to vote.

Remember the Faces class with Freddy Moran? This is what I made after lunch. What a hoot!

 Clara's face with blue eyes and emoji printed fabric for pigtails glued in place.
Clara with emoji pigtails collage quilt top

I found the emoji fabric by Timeless Treasures in Dallas last year intending to use it in a baby quilt. While the scientific fabric was made up, this just lingered in the stash. I cut two rows of emojis and dropped one on the background. It just looked like pigtails and there was the top. Freddy loved this fabric so I cut two more rows for her. I can't wait to see what she makes with it.

Circles of yellow emojis with a variety of expression including heart eyes, sunglasses, laughing until it cries.
Detail of emoji pigtails

The eyebrows were petals {from that wild black and white fabric that was Jane's eyes.} Adding the line of her cheek defines her face as a heart. At home, I plucked some eyelashes, repositioned her lower lip, and found brighter red confetti.

Then I thought about the quilting. Each fabric on Jane's had a thread change. That seems a bit much for an improvisational piece. On the other hand, I couldn't see anything when quilting the background with clear nylon monofilament. I'd like to quilt over/across the collaged pieces rather than outlining them but the pigtails should be highlighted with circles... which is just outlining.

Collage pieces free-motion quilted in place using matching thread or nylon monofilament.
Clara with emoji pigtails collage quilt

I don't know about you, but after noticing something - good or bad - I often repeat it. It suddenly seems like the sole solution. It's either the dichotomy between my conscious and subconscious or simple hypocrisy. So here I am again, changing threads with each fabric color.

Once it was quilted, she really needed earrings. I kept wondering about ears but finally decided to call it done.

This quilt also called for facing. Here's a photo of it in progress.

The dark grey facing on the Clara collage quilt hides all binding to the back.
Sewing a facing on the Clara collage quilt

Quilt Specifics
Size: 25" x 24"
Designs: Collage
Batting: Hobbs 80/20
Thread: Blue, red, pink and yellow 60-wt cotton and black poly threads
Quilting: FMQ and walking foot
Approximate Yardage: 1.25 yd

Off the Bookshelf
The first one wasn't on the bookshelf but I read Mary Robinette Kowal's Lady Astronaut of Mars {the actual novelette is here}, loved it, and then found her two prequels: The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky {and another to be published next year}.

Book covers - The Fated Sky and The Calculating Stars - have silhouettes of women .

The series follows an accelerated space program after a 1953 meteor wipes out the east coast of the US causing extinction-level climate change. Like Hidden Figures the women are calculators who run the math for the launch and trajectories. Mary is a writer and puppeteer {interesting combination} with an optimistic outlook on life. There are problems to be faced but most people can change for the better. Let me know if you like this series.

Enjoy the day, Ann