Sunday, December 9, 2012

A New Twist for Me

I haven't been motivated to do much of anything lately and that includes sewing. But I had promised my baby girl that I would make her a throw quilt to match her tree skirt that she liked so well. I already had the Layer Cake in the same fabric and had planned on using the Twister tool I bought more than a year ago. I had to force myself to do it but I laid out all the blocks and sewed them together. That's the first step.  When I was finished I thought it looked pretty cool and with some fancy quilting it might be okay just like that. So I sent a pic to my daughter of the blocks and then a pic of a twister quilt in similar colors I found on the Internet. And wouldn't you know it she wanted the Twister. So I got busy. The next step is to use the Twister to cut those blocks apart and then sew them back together. Sounds like a waste of time and fabric. But, it wasn't. It really is as easy as they say and I have to say I am awful glad I did it. It looks even better than I thought it would.  This picture just doesn't do it justice.  No two fabrics are the same -- all but 3 are prints.  I've got the top done and that means all that's left is the quilting and binding, which I'm going to get started on as soon as I find out if she wants a border around it first. But I have to say, that little tool is pretty awesome. So I'm a little more motivated now. And when you're finished cutting them all apart, you end up with a bunch of much smaller squares in the same colors that you can use a smaller Twister tool with (of course I bought all 3 sizes) and I can make a mini quilt from those and I have the charm pack I bought before I even bought any of the fabric that I could make a matching wall hanging. So I may have some other twister projects in my future -- but probably not before this Christmas. Here's the before and after pictures. And I've also included a picture of the finished quilt, the front and back, with a closeup of the quilting.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My best quilt ever

In 2007 my son asked me to make him a quilt for his bed.  The online quilt group I belonged to had just started a block of the month.  I hadn't even been quilting a year, but I told him I would make the blocks of the month in whatever color he wanted and in a year he would have a quilt.  He wanted red, white and black.  So that's what I did and I kept up with the blocks and after a year I had 12 blocks.  But he said he wanted the quilt to fit his queen size bed so I needed twice as many blocks.  So I used some of the free ones offered on the group site.  But he wanted it to hang down the sides so I figured I needed 49 blocks.  And then I thought it would be best if it was longer so that it could cover the pillows, which meant I needed 56 blocks.  This quilt just kept growing and growing and needing more blocks.  Finally I decided to just make 28 blocks (I had 24 already) and alternate that with 28 solid black fabric squares.  That made it easier.  But then I had to quilt something pretty in those empty black blocks.  He wanted a celtic design so I gave him some options and picked what he wanted.  But the pieced blocks were stars so the design he picked wouldn't work well so I got a different one for the pieced blocks.  But it didn't go into the corners and left a lot of unquilted space so I added some quilted celtic triangle knots in the corners.  Then I wanted to try a different border and corners.  So that was another quilting design -- all celtic.  When it was finally done, 5 years later, it was the best quilt I ever made.  I'm so glad it's done and I was able to give it to him for his birthday which landed on Thanksgiving this year. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Easy Christmas Table Topper

Had some cute snowman fabric and decided to make a table topper out of it using the 60 degree triangle ruler I have.  I used it recently on a chicken table runner and table topper for my daughter.  It was so easy I figured I'd make a Christmas one too.  I recently got some hexagon shaped quilting designs so I figured I'd try one of them out.  It came out pretty good.  It's got a kind of country flavor to it and is red, white and blue (mostly) too.  So it made me think my daughter might like it.  I guess it'll make the trip with hubby.  He has to take an extra suitcase for all the stuff I have for him to take her.  But when he comes back he can just put one suitcase in the other for the trip home.  I have another one cut out in traditional Christmas colors for me.  Just gotta sew it, quilt it, and bind it.  Wednesday is my day off so I figure I can finish it up then. Plus I have some other quilting projects I'd like to get done.  The photos didn't come out too good, but this is the front and back and hopefully you can see the quilting.

Trick or Treat Time

When hubby and I were on the Quilt Across Texas Shop Hop he found a Halloween panel on sale in one of the shops and bought it.  He figured I'd do something with it.  He thought I'd make a wall hanging and just quilt the panel as is, but I decided to cut it apart and make four trick or treat bags.  Each one has a big block (front of bag), smaller block (as pocket on back) and strips (used as handles).  I used a spiderweb quilting design and used white thread on solid black fabric.  Think they came out pretty good.  And I had a lot of fun making them -- even though it involved a lot of hand sewing.  Tomorrow they will be on their way (with  my hubby) to my daughter's house for her and the three grands.  Didn't have enough to make one for my son-in-law.  Guess he'll have to wait until next year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's a surprise - kind of

Hubby gets to go see daughter, her hubby and the grands next week in Washington, but since I used up all my vacation time recuperating from knee replacement, I have to stay home and work.  So instead, I'll be there in spirit and made a surprise for my baby girl.  She loves chickens now. Of course she hated them when she went to school where the sports team was the gamecocks and where there were a dozen chickens in every store.  But now .... she likes them.  So I made her a few.  I found the fabric last year on my Quilt Across Texas shop hop and it just screamed her name.  I finally figured out what to do with the fabric.  The original plan was the table runner.  I took pictures of the quilting on the front and back even though you can't see it very good.  It's a real cool pattern.

The leftovers from the table runner became a table topper. Same quilting, but different backing so I took pictures of the quilting on front and back again.  The back of this one shows the quilting the best.

But the wallhanging is my favorite.  I actually have enough fabric to make two but ran out of time and hubby said she doesn't have enough wall space for two.  We'll see if she agrees, I could always send it later.

Was tons of fun but so glad to be done.  And I was able to finish in time for hubby to take with him, so no shipping costs.  Life is good.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Christmas Tree Skirt #2

I finished my second Tree Skirt and as usual it's even better than the first.  Still not perfect but definitely pretty.  On Nov. 1 it'll be at it's new home and underneath a Christmas Tree.  Here's what it looks like pre-tree.

Close up of quilting on back.

Close  up of quilting on front.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gettin' 'em done

A few years ago I figured my quilting skills had progressed enought that I could make quilted projects for Christmas presents for my coworkers.  So I made each one a table topper.  One block each, pretty simple, one-day projects.  They came out great.  You can see them all here on my blog.  Then the next year came and some of my coworkers had left and I had new ones, so for the new ones, it was table toppers again, but for the ones who already had table toppers I gave them their choice of quilted projects.  Now a few picked small wall hangings.  Pretty easy, done in no time.  You can see some of them here and some more of them here But two of them picked table runners and they wanted them long.  So .... when Christmas got here I had the tops done, but not quilted.  This was before I got my longarm.  So I showed them their presents at Christmas and took them back to finish them. Well, that was three years ago.  Today I finished one of them.  I am so happy and I had forgotten how cute it was and how much I liked it.   If she checks facebook, she won't be surprised, but she doesn't usually, so next week this will be on the way to her house.  Hope she still has a use for it. Here's some close ups of the cute fabric that I fussy cut in the blocks and used in the borders.  I used a chicken wire design for the quilting.  I think it came out pretty good.   Now I still have one to do, and I need to go dig it out and finish it.  If I remember right, it was the prettiest fabric I ever used.  I paid someone to quilt part of it and I think all I have left is to stitch in the ditch and bind it.  I must be getting better at the hand-sewing part of binding because I'm starting to enjoy it, and I used to dread it terribly.  It's so nice to check things off my "Get 'em done" list.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Christmas Tree Skirt in the making

For those who wondered about the tree skirt project I said I was going to try, just wanted to let you know I tried it.  And I finished it and made another and have 2 more planned and love it!  I quilted this one using a pretty dense design, and was sorry later.  The second one I did the quilting was better.  I used a sheet on the back of this and was glad I did.  It looks awesome and saved quite a bit of money.

It is as easy as it says it is.  There are no matching points so no need to pin.  The design just somehow comes out without you doing anything but sewing them together.  I tried to figure it out and gave up. Geometry was not my favorite part of math.  The hardest part is cutting the wedges, but that may just be me.  You don’t need to buy the magazine pattern.  That pattern and many others are on the wedge ruler package.  You do need to buy the wedge ruler.  9 or 10 degree 25” long is important if you want to make a tree skirt.  If you just want to make round table toppers, not so important.  It isn’t cheap ($30) but worth every penny. 

All you really do is sew strips together into panels and then cut wedges out of the panels.  Easy peasey.  The pattern calls for certain width of strips, but you can use any widths you want.  The pattern calls for 5 different fabrics, but again I think you could use however many you wanted.   The pattern calls for different amounts of fabric based on what width you were using it for but because I wasn’t sure ahead of time what placement I was going to use for the fabrics, I just bought 1 yard of each of 5 colors.  I can always use the leftovers later.  If you want to use good fabric on the bottom of the tree skirt you need about 3 ½ yards I think.  I’m just going to use a sheet – much cheaper and works just as well.  Who will see it?  I’m also going to try it with a border fabric I found that I like.  Hopefully I bought enough.  Since I paid $10 for the book, I did follow the directions this time and probably will a few more times till I perfect the process.

 It takes you a couple hours to cut all the strips (I’m slow).  It takes another couple hours to sew the strips together into 4 panels (again I’m slow) and then you need to press them.  It takes another couple hours to cut the wedges (for me this was the hardest part).  It takes another couple hours to sew all the strips together and press them.  And I suspect it’ll take me another couple hours to quilt it.  And God knows how long to bind it, since that's my least favorite part of quilting and I need to use bias binding and have never done that.  I guess you don’t need to quilt it, but I’m going to just because I have a long arm and I like to play with it.  I think you can just sew a big circle of fabric to the back and birth the quilt and it'll be awesome.  I have some awesome ideas for quilting.  But since my knee replacement, I can’t stand for more than about 40 minutes at a time and I can’t sit for more than about 40 minutes at a time, so I had to do this in stages.  Which is why I’m blogging right now, rather than finishing the quilting.  I’ll post another picture when it is all done.

The pattern calls for the widest strip to be in the center and then you match the strips in each direction. That allows you to turn the ruler upside down and keep the same design.  But on the wedge ruler package they showed you the different patterns you’ll get if you don’t keep the fabrics the same on each side.  Pretty cool.  And they show you the different patterns you get by flipping the wedge over vs. flipping the wedge upside down.  Both are very cool.  Can you tell I like this wedge ruler?  I looked on the website for the producer of this and it has some great info on other uses for this ruler.  Check it out:  The 10 degree ruler is here:

Some things I learned.  The pattern called for you to use a large print for the widest strip.  You lose the design if the pattern is large – I don’t recommend it.  I do recommend NOT using a directional fabric.  You’ll see in my picture some of my cardinals are flying upside down and they are all cut into strips.  I don’t think it’ll be obvious under a tree but I don’t like that.  The pattern doesn’t tell you to use high contrast, but I think it looks a lot better if you do. The pattern doesn’t tell you to use a solid in there anywhere, but I think it gets too busy with all prints and the solid really stands out.  It is important that you press all the strips in the same direction on every panel you make. It makes the sewing together easier.  Although you're not locking seams like you'd expect.  The pattern doesn't tell you to make sure the ruler extends more than 1/4 inch into the strip at each end.  I didn't do that on mine and so I will not have a point between the first and second strips.  I will make sure I do that in the future. 

In this pattern you made four panels of strips (width of fabric)  -- the originator calls them strata --and you were able to cut 10 wedges (each wedge is 9 degrees) from each panel.  To make a circle you need 360 degrees, or 40 wedges of this ruler.  They also have 10 degree wedge rulers; I guess you’d just need 36 wedges.  I did buy one of those – it was cheaper and I couldn’t find the 9 degree wedge ruler anywhere-- but I found out that the 10 degree wedge is a right triangle and the 9 degree wedge is not.  Not sure how that matters other than the patterns will be different.  There are patterns on that ruler too.  I’m just trying the 9 degree one this time using the pattern from the magazine.  I think it’s pretty awesome.  I’ll probably experiment after I get a couple of these under my belt.  I have fabric picked out to make 4 more.  I’d better get busy.  You can see below what I mean about the directional and large print fabric issues and the quilting I did.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Almost Done

I started a 3-block project on Monday with a deadline of Friday. Really had my doubts I'd get done. The first block on Monday was a cougar paw print in gold and green to represent our local elementary school (not Carol's design); Tuesday's block was to represent my organization so it has our patch in a star (Carol's design) made with Army fabrics. Today's block was to represent the school district -- it's a 5-pointed star with an apple cut out of the corner (both Carol's patterns). My goal was to get it together and quilted today and I am happy to say I am right on schedule. I put it together with some plain blue fabric that seemed to set off all the blocks and I quilted it with a simple heart design.  I added the binding and Friday I presented it to the Principal of our local elementary school to commemorate our re-signing our partnership agreement. She loved it, as did the superintendent.  My organization provides tutors, mentors, readers and special environmental programs for the elementary classes. It's tons of fun for everyone. Feeling good that I am back to sewing.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting back to sewing

My favorite online quilting group started a Block of the Month Mystery in May. I was keeping up pretty well until I had a knee replacement and then I got behind. I am finally able to sew again after 5 weeks and this weekend I was able to get completely caught up to September. Normally I would wait until the end, but I am really happy with the blocks so far, so I thought I would share them here.  I got behind again and at the end of December, I made the October and November blocks and hope to get December done before January's is posted.  I'll just keep posting them here so they are all in one blog entry.  When the mystery is solved and I know how these all go together, I'll post that in a new entry.






Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Farewell Gift

The commander of the U.S. Army Environmental Command is leaving and he always complimented me on the quilts in my cubicle at work or that I've made for my coworkers so I wanted to make a quilt for him before he left. Since he is an Army Colonel, I wanted to make it Army themed, but since our jobs are all about the environment, I wanted to include that too. So the front is all Army and the back is the Lorax -- he speaks for the trees. And I quilted it in a pattern for Soldiers that says Respect, Honor and Thank You and includes patriotic pictures like the liberty bell, flag, eagle, and stars. Hope he likes it.