June 29, 2011

Quilting the Stars

The quilting is coming along pretty well, though of course slower than I'd hoped.  I've sewn vertical and horizontal lines along the sides of the stars, now am finishing outlining them.

Some photos of the in-progress quilting:

Overhead view
Outlining the stars

The design to quilt around the stars in straight, unbroken lines (begins at #1, bottom left).  This outlines the stars completely with two passes per row.  Pretty clever if I say so myself ;)

You can just make out the star shapes behind the quilting lines

The planned motif to decorate the white squares between the stars:

All scans from "Heirloom Machine Quilting" by Harriet Hargrave

Ideas for the borders:

I think I'll use one of these on the larger dark blue border.  I'm thinking diagonal lines on the smaller light blue border to echo the edges of the stars.

June 28, 2011

A New Passion

I've always been fascinated by anatomy and medicine, and planned to be a doctor.  This plan solidified at age 15: I would be a general surgeon and practice in the developing world where help was needed most.  I love using my mind and hands together.  Then I developed a constant headache, and later fibromyalgia and muscle pain, so became a professional patient instead.

With pain came many hours to fill...daytime tv is even worse than it sounds!  I'd always been interested in beautiful textiles.   I took up knitting to keep from going crazy.  I also started quilting, even making a twin-sized quilt for my best friend.  She still uses it :)  I started garment sewing more recently.

I was forced to find a new passion in handwork and am glad for what I've learned.  The feeling of creating something beautiful and unique is unmatched. Sometimes, though, I can't help but think "what if."

Have you had to find a new passion, or did one sneak up on you?  Is your passion a retreat from the stresses of everyday life?  I'd love to hear what most excites you about your hobbies and passions.

June 25, 2011

Life, Quilt

Some things have gone well in my life, others haven't.  I have a new good friend and we see each other weekly or so.  Last weekend we went to a cabaret show--so much fun!  This weekend has some good plans as well.  I miss having a local best girlfriend.  Haven't had one since high school, though, so I should be used to it by now.

I have been making progess on the baby quilt.  Most of the basic horizontal and vertical line quilting is done, so is outlining some borders.  Now to do detailed quilting of the blocks and borders.  I also haven't decided on a marking technique; maybe water soluble marker.  My free motion quilting is terrible so I'm doing as much with the feed dogs up as possible.

I'm still adjusting to the loss of function in my dominant arm.  'Nuff said.

June 18, 2011

Quilt is Basted!

It took two tries but the quilt is basted :)  The first try had the backing stretched too tight, so I had to redo it.  My rug is great for smoothing out fabric--it sort of velcros the fabric.

I spread the backing fabric, then the batting, muslin and the quilt top.  I smoothed all the layers, especially the backing and top, so there are (hopefully) no wrinkles in the final quilt.

Quilt roll up

Lots of safety pins=sore fingers
 Unfortunately the backing fabric shrunk in the wash so it's a little short.  I'd calculated so there would be extra, but forgot to account for shrinkage.  Luckily there's extra width so I'll chop some off the side and seam it to the top.  If I do this well it'll blend in with a quilting line.  I think I'll hand baste 1/4" below the seam between the borders then position the backing patch and sew.  This should position the seam well, but we'll see.
Too much and too little backing fabric

June 17, 2011

New Furniture

I have a new living room :)  I moved last year and finally have furniture that works here!

Living room, from the entry
I bought new bookcases that are open so don't block the light.  I really like how it divides the space, leaving a reading nook and dining area (aka sewing room in winter).  The embroidered cushions match a lampshade I already own.

New comfy couch
The new couch is black leather, not something I ever imagined buying.  But it's thick leather, comfy, I love the chaise and the headrest is awesome!  Tall people need neck support too.

Reading nook, also cat bed

I bought some lovely fabric today for shirts.  I've realized how nice woven shirts are for warm weather, and happened to be passing the fabric store.  But I need to finish the quilt first: next step is pin basting.  Maybe I can get it done tonight.  I may use lemon bars to bribe a friend into helping ;)

In less happy news, Picasa ate some of my photos.  Luckily I have backups, but it's annoying to lose photos on blog entries and tedious to replace them.

June 15, 2011

Quilt Update

Quilt top in daylight

I have done no sewing.  Instead I bought and assembled a bunch of new furniture: a couch and two bookcases.  Last year I got a new apartment, now I finally I have furnishings that work in it :)

I did buy backing fabric for the quilt since my intended backing fabric was too narrow.  It's cobalt blue cotton, yum!  I need to wash and dry the fabric, then layer and pin baste the quilt, then quilt it.  Because I decided on poly batting, which isn't opaque, I am lining the quilt top with muslin.  Otherwise the white squares will look slightly blue.  So the whole project is much more complicated than originally intended.

June 13, 2011

A Funny

I have a new top and added twill tape waist ties, and last time I wore it they were stiff.  Only the bottom half of each, mind, and I couldn't think what had caused this.  Stain spray? no.  It had been hanging in the closet, so I had no idea.

Then I'm in the bathroom on Sat, happen to look over, and there's my cat chewing on the ties!  No wonder they're stiff and funky feeling!  I rinsed them off, washed them a little, but cat spit apparently works better than starch.  At least I solved the mystery ;)
Ella, caught in the act!

June 11, 2011

Quilt Top Finished

Well, my plan to finish the quilt by tonight was overambitious.  A few things went wrong, other things came up, and I barely managed to finish sewing the top.  But it looks good :)


I only figured out how to reliably sew a 1/4" seam on my machine halfway through this project.  As a result my sewing was inaccurate and pieces didn't always match up.  This meant that I had to pay attention to every seam so the points and seam lines matched up, and that took a lot of time.

For borders I added a 1/2" white strip to act as a frame around the blocks.  Then 2" of the light blue and 3" of dark blue.  The blocks are 9" square.

White square begging to be quilted
Now that there's no hurry to finish I'm planning to do some really nice quilting.  In the large white squares I'll put a swirly design.  The borders will get something special, too.  Also horizontal and vertical lines on the whole thing to make the blocks pop and to hold it together.

I overdyed the backing fabric, hung it up to dry, and realized it has a crazy diagonal pattern.  I don't really like the dye job for this project anyway, so I'll buy a different fabric for the backing.  I may buy cotton batting to replace the poly batting I was planning to use.  I'll test the poly batting against a sample of cotton I already have, see which looks better.  I need to practice my free-motion quilting anyway.

June 7, 2011

Quilt Progress

Finished blocks
I finished piecing and pressing all 20 blocks last night :)  This makes me a day ahead of schedule!  So there's time to have a bad day, and spend more time on the quilting, while still finishing the quilt for Saturday.  I hope.

 Still to finish:

  • sew the blocks together and add borders (creating the quilt top)
  • layer the backing, batting and top, and safety pin them together
  • quilting
  • binding
  • sign and date the quilt

The blocks are 9" finished size, and the quilt will be 4 blocks wide by 5 high, plus borders.
Quilt layout

If I have time I'd like to quilt a special design in the large white square created where the blocks meet (center of photo at left).

The big decision now is what to use for backing.  I'd love some opinions!

The white and larger blue floral in the blocks are flannel, and I have enough of the blue to back the quilt.  Except that it works in small amounts and is, imo, rather hideous on its own.  I have another flannel, a small floral, that could work.  However I'm leaning toward bleached muslin at this point--I have it, it looks and wears well, and nobody dislikes white.

I am decided on the borders.  The lighter blue for the inner border and darker blue for the outer border.  I may add a narrow innermost white border, to visually separate the blocks from the borders.  The whole thing will be bound with the dark blue print.  It's a really cool fabric, pointillist in appearance, and won't show dirt.  I want this baby quilt to be used.

Block with border fabrics

June 4, 2011

We Interrupt Regularly Scheduled Sewing

For a baby quilt!  Yes, I used to be a quilter and sometimes still dabble in it.  I'd started a small quilt several years ago but never finished it.  I'm hoping I can bust out the finished product by next Sat, the baby shower.      There's maybe half the piecing for the top left to do, plus some quilting then binding.

I'm too tired to take pictures tonight, but soon.  Bonus: sewing (or quilting) is so much faster than knitting!
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