Friday, June 27, 2014

My WIP is not a quilt

It's a house.

I moved into my new house last week after a flurry of activity and some anxious moments when I thought I would not finish in time for the new owners to move into my old one. The relief was unimaginable when I carried the last thing out the door (not counting the towels I forgot in the downstairs bathroom - a welcome gift for the new residents?)

My move may be one of the shortest - only one house stands between my old and new address. One might think that a short move is easier, but it's not. If everything had to be on the truck by a certain time, I would have been ready; instead I could compromise and say to myself: "Oh, that doesn't need to be packed in a box, I can just carry it down the road." After about 50 trips down the road, sometimes in the rain, I realized the error of my ways.

There is nothing new about my new house. It is of undetermined age and has been altered through the decades. My guess is that the oldest original parts are 100+ years old and the newest parts are from the 70's. There are many inspiring details that I will try to post pictures of - some might even be integrated into a quilt design or two. There are many uninspiring details too (like the bathrooms).

The old part of the house was divided into 2 flats and a basement flat was also added in the late 60s. Neither upstairs flat is quite right - one is smaller and sunnier and has the big original kitchen; the other is bigger and has a central living room and allows us to have a bedroom next to my girl who is 10 and not old enough to have her own apartment. Then there was the internet in one flat but the TV in the other. Going outside to have breakfast or check email was slightly inconvenient.

The only solution - find a door between them. There must have been 1 or even 2 doors from the main hallway to the three-bedroom flat - the house was once one large residence. Hubby got out the tools and after a few exploratory cuts, found the doorway.

Behind the plasterboard in the three-bedroom flat was some artwork, painted there on some old wallpaper. It is odd but amusing. Its age is unknown but I imagine it being painted by some hippies some time between the door being closed up and the plasterboard added. The old walls in NZ are often rough boards nailed to the framing with hessian / burlap covering. Over this is wallpaper. It makes for interesting wall archeology.

My sewing stuff is buried in a pile of boxes somewhere in the front room. There is an extremely slim chance that I can find it and make enough room to set up my machine and ironing board for some quilty therapy this weekend. The unpacking seems endless and it is hard to stay motivated when I know that in 6-9 months we will be packing it all up again so that the real work can begin. Does anyone know a good architect?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Finished wedding quilt

I finished the quilt for my friend's wedding which was on Saturday. I almost forgot to put a label on it, so with only a couple of hours to spare I was sewing it on the back.

I'm very happy with the end result and almost wish I could keep it for myself. Sometimes I think I like quilts that I make for others - they are better planned than ones I make for myself (not to mention the fact that they get finished quickly). There are several mistakes on this quilt, but it does take some looking at to see them. No handmade thing is perfect - isn't that kind of the point?

I don't have a good way to get photos of big quilts. I really need to figure something out. So here is the "Hey you guys, hold this for me" picture.

I did the quilting using my Swiftquilter frame and Juki TL-98P machine. After it was pinned and ready to go, I would guess it took me 4-6 hours to do the quilting. I admit that I tend towards dense quilting, so a more open pattern would have been faster. I used a free-hand spiral turned flower petal motif. It was easy to do and required no starts/stops and little concentration.

I had some soft sandy-colored variegated King Tut thread. There is no question that this is my very best favorite thread to use for quilting. This particular color just melted into the quilt. I used some pre-wound bobbins of Superior's bottom line in a pale grey. I've never used the pre-wound ones before and they were super convenient. Given the 8 bobbins that I used, it's nice to grab one from the bag and drop it in.

I can't be sure that they were 100% trouble free. I noticed on the back a few minor flaws and I suspect that the bobbin might have been the culprit. However, I also found that the bobbin case tension was too loose because some fluff was caught up in it and this too may have been the cause.

Of course none of this is important to the recipients of the quilt. All I hope is that they have many years shared together snuggling under its warmth.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Scrappy X block

It is my turn to define the monthly block for Monday Modern quilters. I thought I'd make something up that was quick and could use up a few scraps.

  • Background - white or white-on-white
  • Scraps - bright solids or tone-on-tone prints (avoid prints with too many colours)

Cut an 8-1/2 inch square from your background fabric. For the bright scraps I used strips that were about 5 inches long and between 1 and 2-1/2 inches wide but you can use smaller ones that are 2-1/2 inches long (more about this later).

Sew the scraps together. In my case I made one strip that was more than 14 inches long and 5 inches wide. If you use smaller scraps you will need to make 2 strips, each about 2-1/2 inches wide and at least 14 inches long. These are bigger than they need to be but will be trimmed down.

Press well and then trim the stip down so that you have 2 strips that are 2 inches wide and 14 inches long. For mine I made one strip and then cut it lengthwise to make 2 strips.

Cut your white background square in half along the diagonal.

Sew one strip along the diagonal of one of the white triangles. Make sure you center the strip - it will stick out quite a bit at each end. Also be careful on the bias of the white triangle - try not to stretch it while you sew.

Press the seam towards the white. Lay the other half of the triangle on top so that the points are lined up. Sew this together watching out for that stretchy bias edge.

Press well. You should now have a square with the scrappy strip in the middle. Leave the ends untrimmed and sticking out.

Cut the square again on the diagonal perpendicular to the scrappy strip.

Using the same method as before, sew the strip to one triangle, press, and then line up the other triangle and sew it on.

Press well and then trim the square down to 9-1/2 inches. Make sure when you trim that you keep the X centered. I used a 6 inch wide ruler and lined up 4-3/4 inches on the inner corners of the X to center it. You're done!