Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Today I'm going shopping! I'm out of good quality batting, plus I need unbleached muslin for Heartstrings blocks and some sewing machine oil for the upstairs treadle. Who knows what else I might find? And, I have a COUPON.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
So I look for deals. I use coupons. I root through stacks of sale fabrics. I search online. I buy vintage fabrics at flea markets and in antique stores and at rummage sales. "Pre-owned" fabric doesn't bother me at all.
Last year at a local quilt show I scored an amazing, if slightly odd, deal. The It's A Stitch show always features a booth they call Granny's Attic, which is like a quilter's rummage sale. They sell fabrics, books, patterns, etc. donated mostly by their members. I of course went to their booth first (before even glancing at the quilt show. Shopping is important!).
On the table with the fabrics were several bags of quilt squares. These were gallon sized bags, stuffed with squares cut from all sorts of print fabrics. They were priced at $5.00 each. I snagged 4 of them, for a grand total of $20.00. (I bought a lot of other stuff there, too, of course, but I'm talking about the squares here.) I especially selected bags with kid fabrics, since I love to make quilts for kids.
When I got them home and went through them, I found them to be mostly rotary cut to 4 in. square. A few were blends, but most were good cottons. There were hundreds of these squares.
These were so easy to use for leaders and enders. Here are some of the quilts I have made from them so far.
I just have to wonder about the person who used to have these fabrics. Why did she (probably a she) cut them all into 4 in. squares? This must have been yards and yards. It must have taken a long time. They don't look die cut, like they would if they were sold commercially.
I wonder how many more quilts I can get out of this pile? Anybody got any good ideas for using squares? I'm getting a little tired of 4 patch and 9 patch. Leave me a comment with suggestions, please!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Quilt owners bring in their quilts, new and old, and we record their stories, which eventually go on the Quilt Index online (see below for link). It's an exacting process, but one I thoroughly enjoy.
Here are some photos from quilts we saw.
I love Red Work! And check out these dancing squirrels!
These are just some of the highlights of our day. We have the best volunteers ever. I forgot to take any pictures of us in action this time! Here's a photo of the volunteers at our last documentation day, in Waukesha in October.
If you'd like to check out the museum, click below:
If you'd like to check out the Quilt Index, here's the link:
Monday, March 11, 2013
The one I got was mostly pink. The squares were cut 4.5 in. There were also some red squares, that didn't really go with the pinks.
I laid them out on the kitchen table to figure out what to do with them. Trip around the world just started happening.
My treadle sewing machines are all over the house (of course!) but my main sewing areas are upstairs in the extra bedroom and in the basement where I do my machine quilting. So I really goofed laying this out in the kitchen. Now I was going to have to move it to sew it, if I wanted to treadle. This was a job for a hand crank! I got my trusty Jones and got to work.
A word or two about sewing with flannel:
I have made flannel quilts for my three children, my husband, and my oldest grandson. It's not hard to sew with flannel, but it's not a great fabric for precision cutting and piecing. I use a 1/4 in. seam allowance, as usual, but I use a shorter stitch length, since flannel wants to ravel out. Simple shapes are best. I also wash my flannel before using it, because it shrinks quite a lot, more than regular cotton.
So what did I do with the extra red squares?
About the pattern: These quilts finish 36 in. square. There are 9 rows of 9 squares each, for a total of 81 squares. I didn't add a border on either, but it would look nice.
Here's the breakdown on the number of squares:
1 center square (solid red)
4 next round (ladybugs)
8 next round (solid red)
12 next round (daisies)
16 next round (dolphins)
16 next round (yellow bugs and butterflies)
12 next round (ladybugs again)
8 next round (solid red)
4 outside corners (daisies again)
If you wanted to make it bigger, you could keep adding rows. Or just add a border, of course.
I quilted both of these on my Davis VF (no problems, knock on wood!). The quilting is just a 4 in. grid in the ditch of the seams. Both are soft and cuddly after washing.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
It started a couple of weeks ago. I was having tension troubles with my machine (Davis Vertical Feed). It's not that unusual to have a couple of problems with a machine made long before my mother was born, and I had fixed things before, but I just wasn't expecting it.
This was supposed to be an easy-peasy project. The pieces were ones I had cut a couple of years ago when I first got my Accuquilt cutter. Sewing them together was a piece of cake. I used them for leaders and enders as I put my Basket of Chips top together.
I had 3 tops on my list of 6, and I decided to quilt this one first. Again, easy-peasy, right? The quilting was long lines from top to bottom of the quilt, following the edge of the patches, with the edge of the presser foot as my guide. Everything was fine, quick and easy. Then I started on the horizontal lines.
That's when the tension nightmare happened. I was sewing merrily along, thinking about something else (probably dinner. Or maybe chocolate). I got to the end of the line, and saw the problem--puckering-- horrible, horrible, puckering. I could tug the fabric and break the stitches.
So I started problem solving. I changed just about every variable--upper tension, bobbin, bobbin thread. I oiled like crazy. I cleaned out lint. And each time, IT WOULD SEEM LIKE IT WORKED. I would say to myself, "Oh, I fixed it. Thank goodness," and I would sew another line. About halfway through, the puckering would start again.
This was enough to make me curse like a sailor (specifically, Captain Haddock from Tintin. Billions of blue blistering barnacles!)
After a while, I tried a radical solution. I decided the problem was the shuttle itself, that it was scratched or dented or something and was snagging the bobbin thread. So I rooted around in my sewing machine stuff, and found another shuttle. I couldn't believe it would fit, but it did. And it sewed! Problem solved? Well, almost, stay tuned. I adjusted the upper tension again, and was back in business.
I do value the seam ripper as a tool. Back when I was first sewing, I didn't have one, and I had to pick out stitches with a heavy needle (don't try this at home). And I will use the seam ripper for piecing mistakes without really thinking much about it. But I hate to rip out machine quilting! Even bad machine quilting. I had to do this in small doses. It might be a good thing I don't drink.
Once things were fixed, I set aside the tumbler quilt long enough to quilt a flannel charity quilt (I'll write about this soon). The quilting was as usual with the Davis, quick and easy. I began to relax again.
Bad idea. I went back to working on the tumbler again, and started having problems with breaking thread. This time, I was mad enough to say enough is enough. The bobbin tension was too tight? Then I would ADJUST THE BOBBIN TENSION.
Manuals warn against this. Old Sewing Machine guys will give you a Look. I was past the point of caring. Plus, I had two working shuttles. If I messed one up, I could use the other one. I took a screw driver, and turned the screw at the point of the shuttle a half turn. (Oh, yes I did!)
IT WORKED!!! I finished the quilting last night. Everything is still okay. I think.
But I have decided this quilt hates me. No marking tool I own could make a mark I could see on the border. Not chalk, not pencil, nothing. It's like a black hole. This is it, below:
So now I'm wondering what kind of problem I'm going to have sewing the binding on. Easy peasy? I do not #$%^ing think so. Arrgh!
Friday, March 1, 2013
I thought that was funny. So when I started making these quilts for charity I named them Some Random Four Patch. I don't really know where this pattern came from. It's easy and fast to make, especially with bright novelty prints.
I pull squares randomly from the pile on the left to make a four patch. If two of the squares go together especially well (like the green and the butterflies below) I put them across from each other diagonally. Just my own little system. (I did have a few regular four patches from another project that I put into the quilt above.)
When the blocks are done I usually set them side by side, alternating their orientation (long strips vertical, then long strips horizontal, etc.) which you can see in the unquilted top below. Again, nothing to match but the edges of the blocks.
The blocks measure 8.5 in. unfinished, 8 in. finished. I make 20 blocks for crib-sized quilts, and set them 4 across and 5 down. I usually add a border made from 2.5 in. wide strips (2 in. finished). The quilt measures 36 in. wide and 44 in. long before quilting.
Recently I tried out using red sashing strips for the blocks.
For quilting, I started by doing quilt in the ditch to stabilize everything. I did a 2 in. grid on the quilt with the blue border, and diagonal lines spaced 2 in. apart on the one with red sashings. Of course I used my Davis Vertical Feed treadle for the quilting.
The two quilts in this pattern that are already finished will go to Quilts for Kids (http://www.quiltsforkids.org). They are collecting lots of quilts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The one that isn't quilted yet will go to a local charity through our wonderful Ties That Bind quilt group in Slinger, WI.
If you make one of these, please comment below!