New Orleans House Project

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018: The Year of Machine Applique?

One of my life-long quilting goals has been to become accomplished at the art of appliqué.  In my early years as a quilter, I did plenty of fused appliqué outlined with machine satin stitch, but the fusibles of 20+ years ago made for stiff and not very snuggly quilts.  I also learned the basics of hand appliqué, but never practiced much.  

Over the past 2 or 3 years, I've challenged myself to learn hand appliqué all over again.  I'm starting to feel somewhat competent at it, but there's still lots of room for improvement.  Besides perfecting the appliqué stitch, there are different techniques to learn for appliqué shape preparation, not to mention learning new ways to coordinate color and fabric styles.

Then there's the time requirement for all that hand-stitching.  I do enjoy the stitching process, but setting aside time for it is always a struggle.  With that in mind, I wondered if machine appliqué would be a way to create traditional-look appliqué in a more timely fashion.

Along came a BOM (Gathered Harvest) at my local quilt store, the Quilted Owl.  I knew a quilt from Blackbird Designs would be a good project to attempt machine appliqué due to the relatively simple appliqué shapes.  

The first block kit became available earlier this month.  I'm using freezer paper and starch to create my appliqué shapes.  So far, I'm just prepping the pieces - there are LOTS of leaves and berries still to prep!  For stitching, I'll be using invisible thread and a very small zig-zag stitch.  I've done a few practice pieces, and the look of the stitching is very much like hand appliqué!

At the same time, I'll be working on a quilt that's been in the UFO pile for far too long!
I started assembling these 3-D or Origami Bow-Tie blocks back in 2012, but they got set aside for some reason or other.  The blocks are from an exchange that happened in 2005, so they've waited long enough!

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I finally started to attach the appliqué shapes to the border!  I had prepped all the shapes in 2012, so now I just need to get everything in place and stitched.  The border is from the cover of Quick Quilts from the Heart by Liz Porter and Marianne Fons.

The shapes have been applied using SoftFuse, which is softer and more flexible than the fusibles from days gone by.  Instead of using the invisible thread technique, these shapes will be stitched using Aurifil 50 weight thread and a machine blanket stitch.  It will take some time to stitch everything, but it's still faster than hand appliqué!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Windblown Wishes Gets An RSC Update

During last year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I used the monthly color challenge to make Windblown Wishes quilt blocks.  Once all the rainbow-hued blocks were done, I planned to assemble them much like Diane Knott's version in her Scrap Quilt Secrets book.  

Diane's pattern uses sashing and cornerstones to create secondary 9-patches between the blocks.  I liked the effect in Diane's quilt, but decided it just looked like random Starburst candies sprinkled on my quilt.  I think the difference is Diane's blocks contain random colors and mine are specific colors.  I tried organizing the cornerstones in a more color-specific way, but still didn't like the effect.

In the end, I opted for a traditional sashing and cornerstone layout. 

Now that I've changed direction from Diane's pattern, I plan to do my own border treatment as well.  There will be a 2-3 inch solid white border, followed by a border of RSC-themed HSTs to mimic the HSTs in the quilt blocks.  I'll probably add a final white fabric border outside the HSTs to stabilize them.  

The HSTs can be part of my monthly RSC projects.  I'll need around 15 of each rainbow color; that should be pretty easy to do using my already-cut strips and the handy-dandy Easy Angle Ruler.  

So, not much scrappy blue stitching here today, but if you check out today's RSC link-up, I'm sure you'll find plenty of inspiration!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Week of Scraps

A lot of scrappy stitching happened this week.  Not all of it was Rainbow Scrap Challenge related, but scraps got used and goals were reached.

The RSC color for January is light blue.  I pulled several 1.5 inch strips to make a 49-patch block using Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trip Around the World technique.  

I also stitched up 2 quarter log cabin blocks using repro light blue fabrics.  

Best of all, I finished stitching all the string blocks needed for my memory quilt version of the Spring Clean Quilt.  I needed to make 144 blocks for this version of a string star.  Earlier this week, I decided I was tired of the stringy mess on the sewing table and pushed myself to finish stitching the remaining blocks.  If you've ever stitched a long-term string project, you know how messy all those strings and bits can get!  As soon as I finished the blocks, I tidied up and snapped a picture of my milestone.  Now I need to assemble the blocks, but that won't come until a little later this year - there are other projects clamoring for the space on the design wall.

I haven't had a chance to look at this week's Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone was stitching up this week!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Rainbow Scrap 2018 Kick-Off

So it looks like much of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge activity this year will involve pushing ongoing projects toward the finish line.  I plan to continue working on some previously started RSC blocks, but I'll also add at least one new project.

From the Wrapping Things Up Department:  assembling last year's Windblown Wishes blocks into a flimsy.  I'll be adding sashing and rainbow-hued cornerstones, followed by at least one fabric-only (not pieced) border.  The pattern can be found in Diane Knott's Scrap Quilt Secrets book.

Another ongoing RSC project will be to make more of these 49-patch blocks.  I started making them last year with random, 1.5 inch squares.  When I had used up all the squares, I started using Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trip Around the World technique for piecing the blocks - as evidenced by the pink block.  These finish at 7 inches, so I'll just keep making them until I decide I have enough for a wall hanging or small quilt.

Another carryover project from last year:  scrappy pinwheels.  The plan is to assemble the pinwheels into 9-patch blocks, with a neutral background.  I guess I'll try to assemble a few blocks each month as an RSC activity.  I haven't done any math on this project, so I may wind up needing more pinwheels...time will tell.

One more ongoing project:  scrappy selvage blocks.   I'm still not sure how I want to use these blocks, but I plan to continue working on them this year.

I plan to keep making Burgoyne Surrounded blocks in 2018, also.  I picked out these scrappy chunks for a light blue block, but haven't gotten the parts and pieces cut yet.

Last, but not least, I've added a quarter log cabin block to my Rainbow Scrap Challenge repertoire.  I only chose 2 light blue scrappy fabrics for this month; I figure I'll use lots more darker blue scraps when we get to that monthly color choice.

Wow.  Now that I've put all that in writing, it sounds like a lot of work, fabric therapy!  I think there's plenty here to keep me happily stitching for the coming year.

For more scrappy inspiration, be sure to check out the weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up page.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Good-bye 2017, Hello 2018!

It's a windy and chilly New Year's Day here in the Crescent City.  The temperature is hovering in the upper 20s (-2º C), but at least the sun is shining!  Dear Hubby and I are recuperating from a rather whirlwind trip to the mountains of North Carolina to see family and friends.  All in all, the perfect day to take stock of what's happening in my quilting studio and make plans for the coming year.

For the past several years, I've made a list of quilting priorities - based on WIPs and UFOs - for the coming year.  I keep the list pinned to a bulletin board in my studio and refer to it when I need to stay focused.

Last year, I joined in with Meredithe's 17UFOsin2017 project, which was a challenge to at least move 17 UFOs a little farther toward the "complete" category.  
I tweaked my notecard list and compiled 17 projects to work on during 2017.  (Many thanks to Kyle for the fancy stationery!)  The new list helped intensify my focus on UFOs and I managed to finish many of my projects and move some others along.  Unfortunately, there were still several projects that went untouched for the entire year!

Of course, one never knows when inspiration will strike, so several projects were begun in 2017 that weren't on any list!
Diane Knott's Scrappy Star Sew-Along called my name during the summer of 2017.

Inspired by Cathy and Gayle, I was also bitten by the Burgoyne Surrounded bug - as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  If you find yourself being tugged toward Burgoyne - here is a link to the great free pattern by Becky of Quilted Twins.

Flamingo hexies also crept into my 2017 quilting world.

Then there are all of the quilts still hanging out on my Quilting Bucket List.  
I've had this pattern by Edyta Sitar for years.  Will 2018 be the year I tackle it?

Or how about a Double Wedding Ring style quilt, like this one by Diane Knott?

I still haven't decided on my final list of quilting priorities for 2018, but I'm sure whatever piques my imagination will be colorful, challenging and great fabric therapy!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thinkin' About RSC 2018: A Quarter Log Cabin Tutorial

As the year comes to a close, I find myself looking back at the year's quilting projects and also looking ahead and planning my quilty priorities for the coming year.  I'll save the year-end wrap-up for another post, because for the past few days I have been playing with scraps for a 2018 Rainbow Scrap Challenge project.

I find that some of my favorite RSC projects have involved fairly simple piecing - something that can be completed in just an hour or so of fabric play time.  It's very satisfying to be able to complete a block while I'm waiting for Dear Hubby to come home from work, or even on my lunch break - working from home has its perks!

With that in mind, I thought I might like to make a version of the "cross" quilts that have been popular for the last few years.  After looking at lots of quilts online and on Instagram, I chose the cover quilt from Modern Log Cabin Quilting as my inspiration.

After reading through the author's instructions, I knew I would need to make modifications in order to utilize my scraps.  I also decided to use reproduction/traditional fabric scraps, so I guess my version won't really be "modern".  No worries, the pattern is actually based on our age-old favorite, the log cabin block.

I grabbed some red and green scraps (c'mon - it's Christmas!) and a variety of background fabrics, and started measuring and cutting.  Since many of my scraps are already cut into 2.5 inch strips and squares, I used that as my starting point.

Each cross block requires:
4 - 2.5 inch squares of the focus (dark) fabric
4 - 2.5 inch squares of background (light) fabric
4 - 2.5 inch x 4.5 inch rectangles of focus (dark) fabric
4 - 2.5 inch x 4.5 inch rectangles of background (light) fabric
4 - 2.5 inch x 6.5 inch rectangles of background (light) fabric

Start with 4 2.5 inch squares of the focus (dark) and background (light) fabrics.  Stitch one dark and one light square together and press the seam toward the darker fabric.

Next up, add the dark 2.5 inch by 4.5 inch rectangles to each set of squares, keeping the dark fabric square on the right (see above).  Press the seams to the dark side.

Now add the 2.5 inch by 4.5 inch light rectangle as illustrated.  Press the seam to the outside.

The final rectangle (2.5 inches by 6.5 inches) is added to the top of the block. 

This time, press the seam toward the inside of the block - this will allow the quarter log units to align smoothly (nestle) when stitched together.

The completed quarter log units should look like this.

Arrange the quarter log units into a cross shape.  Stitch two units together to make the left half of the cross, then the other two units for the right half of the cross.  Finally, stitch the right and left sides together with one long seam down the middle.  I pressed the final seam open instead of to one side or the other.  

Finished block!

The finished blocks measure 12 inches.  Since I never seem to be able to make small quilts, I figure I'll aim for at least a twin bed sized quilt: possibly 6 x7 blocks.  These are kind of like potato chips - once you get started, you just want to keep making them!  I've already picked out more red and green scraps for the next round of blocks.

More scrappy inspiration to be found at Angela's Soscrappy blog this morning.  

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Slow Wrap-Up

I'm still trying to wrap up some Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects before the end of the year.  Between work-related travel and other holiday-related activities this week, not much sewing took place.  Still, little bits of stitching here and there help get the projects completed and provide soothing fabric therapy when life gets stressful!

I did manage to stitch the binding to the front of the Carpenter's Wheel quilt.  Before attaching the binding, I decided to add a hanging sleeve (the lighter strip of white fabric in the middle of the picture).  I'd like to enter this quilt in a local quilt show this spring, so having a sleeve already attached will make life easier.  The quilt sleeve can be made of the same fabric as the quilt backing, or something that coordinates with the quilt - or whatever fabric you fancy.

My method for making a quilt-hanging sleeve is to cut a strip 10 inches wide and 4-5 inches shorter than the length of the top of the quilt.  On the short edges of the fabric strip, fold a quarter of an inch of fabric to the wrong side and stitch in place to create a hem.  Next, press the strip, right sides together, so the long raw edges are together.  Baste the long, raw edges of the strip to the top of the quilt with a scant quarter inch seam.  When you stitch the binding to the quilt, the regular seam will hold the sleeve in place - be careful not to catch any other part of the sleeve in the binding seam.  Now you only need to hand stitch the bottom edge of the sleeve to the quilt backing!

Another project waiting for end-of-year wrap up is the blue and white sawtooth star quilt.  I've been waiting for some fabric samples to audition for a final outer border.  The fabrics arrived this week, so I taped them up next to the quilt to try to make a decision.
Here's fabric choice #1.  Maybe a little too dark?

Choice #2.  I love the birds, but maybe they are a distraction?

Choice #3.  In person, I thought this fabric might be too light in color, but the photograph makes it look pretty good.  What do you think about the 3 choices?

I've been out running the roads all day, wrapping up various Christmas preparations.  I'm looking forward to a cup of hot tea and checking out more Rainbow Scrap project wrap-ups.  Maybe I'll even do some stitching on the Carpenter's Wheel binding...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sneaux Day Quilting

You may have heard that parts of the Deep South experienced a little snowfall yesterday.  
At our house, all we had was cold rain and sleet, although a few places around town reported seeing fat, wet flakes falling from the sky.  Just north of the city there was enough snow to accumulate, which caused snowman building and snowball fights, not to mention vehicles slipping and sliding all over the roads.  Apparently Mike the Tiger, LSU's mascot, enjoyed his sneaux day, too!

You'd think the inclement weather would be a perfect excuse to stay home and quilt, but it didn't really work out that way.  Dear Hubby and I had planned on taking vacation days in honor of his birthday, so neither of us had to work.  Since the weather wasn't great for driving, our plans to go to the camp and/or do some antiquing got scrapped, and we wound up baking (bread and cookies) and doing Christmas decorating.   I tried to sneak in a little quilt-related activity, but didn't get far.

I started to trim the excess backing and batting from my Carpenter's Wheel quilt, but only finished one side.  I made the binding (all 300+ inches of it) last weekend, so once the quilt is trimmed and squared up, I will stitch the binding in place.  This quilt was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project in 2014; it's been hanging around, waiting for binding for over a year, so I'd really like to put in the finishing stitches before the end of 2017!

I made this mini 9-patch several years ago, using up scraps from Bento Box quilts I had made for my nieces.  
Bento Box quilt under construction, circa 2009.  Pattern by Tracey Brookshier.

The mini 9-patch sat around for a long time, waiting to be quilted.  Last week I decided this quilt needed to be DONE and set to work layering and pinning.  I found the just the right shade of orange thread in my stash and started by quilting in the ditch, because that was the easiest thing to do.  Next I did some quilting a quarter inch from the seams in the setting triangles.  I decided I liked the quarter inch quilting much better than quilting in the ditch and vowed never to use ditch quilting again unless absolutely necessary!  I finished up with more quarter inch quilting around the center of each 9-patch.  
I've almost finished hand-stitching the binding to the back of the quilt.  I love this orange bandana print backing!  

One more Finish 'Er Up project has been on the front burner over the past few weeks.  This quilt was inspired by a month of blue scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I've been working on it in fits and starts since the end of 2013, so I think it's time for this one to be DONE, too!

The quilt measures about 80 inches square right now, but I want it to fit on a queen-sized bed, so it needs to be at least 10 inches larger all around.  I want a blue and white fabric for an outer border, but haven't found The Right Thing at my local quilt shops.  I think I found a couple of candidates online, so I'm waiting for samples to arrive before I order yardage.  

Those are the projects I hope to wrap up for the end of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year.  I still have plenty of RSC UFOs, but they will have to wait a bit longer to get finished.  In the meantime, I will be checking out how other RSC quilters are wrapping up their projects for the year!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Enjoying My Calorie-Free Chocolates

Today's entry for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge involves the monthly challenge color - brown - and the "finish it up" aspect of the challenge.

This quilt started life as a challenge/swap to create 9-patch blocks with brown and another color inspired by chocolate candy.  The swap took place between some chocoholics who were members of the Treadle On mail list - a group devoted to sewing with vintage and antique, non-electric sewing machines.  

The swap took place in 2007, but I didn't start playing with my blocks until 2012!  I made a few more chocolate 9-patch blocks and added snowball blocks made with chocolate candy fabrics.

Once the quilt top was finished, I handed it off to my local longarm quilter, Cindy Braiwick.  She had already done some fun, food-related quilting on my Ice Cream quilt, so I knew she'd come up with great ideas for this quilt, too.

She incorporated "I 💜 Chocolate" into the quilting around the borders.  

The 9-patch blocks are quilted with different types of candy, while the snowball blocks feature decorative hearts.

I didn't notice this quilting design until I was snapping pictures.  I guess those are supposed to be chocolate martinis!

This quilt has been languishing in the "needs binding" pile for a couple of years.  I finished the binding this week, washed and dried it and now have a the perfect guilt-free chocolate treat!

There will be more quilty treats at this week's RSC link-up - guaranteed to be good for you!