Friday, July 31, 2009

The Building Part of an I Spy Quilt

Now that the anniversary party is over, I guess we better get back to the quilting tutorial.

We left off putting all the blocks together with the feature fabric and sashings, and now we can lay them out and play around with the look of the quilt.

Mine just barely fit on the dining room table but close enough so I can get an idea of how I want the feature fabrics to be set out.

In this quilt I don't want all the reds bunched up in one corner, nor all the blues in one column, nor all the beiges in one row. I want the colours of the blocks to be spread out so it has a random feel to it.

You'll also notice when you lay out your blocks that the right-hand side and the bottom of the quilt do not have a brown sashing border.

Once you have decided which blocks will go where, you then know where to add the other sashing pieces. All the blocks with edges on the right-hand side need an extra sashing, like so.

Similarly, all your blocks for the bottom row will need an extra sashing along the bottom of the block. Voila.

The block that lives in the bottom right-hand corner will need to have a sashing put on both the right-hand side and the bottom. This is where we'll be using the brown sashing that has two orange 2.5" squares attached to it.

Keep in mind that you still want your seams ironed in such a way as to give the snug fit for easy seaming.

Okay, now we're ready to start sewing the blocks together. Keeping in mind where you had them laid out on the table, start stitching the blocks.

You may have to do some re-ironing in order to get the seams to fit snugly but it's so seriously worth it. At this stage, I'm planning ahead for which seams will need to fit together and ironing to make sure that happens. It gives you some beautiful corners and saves some seaming heartache later.

I have another thing I do when I'm sewing blocks together. I like to do it with as many shorter seams as possible. So instead of sewing a whole row of them together and then joining the long rows, I do it in chunks that look more like this.

And this.

Then I'll join these chunks together. My plan is always motivated by doing the least number of long seams as I possibly can. In this quilt, I had only one seam that ran from the top to the bottom of the quilt. It was a good score.

Use whatever works for you. Some people like sewing many rows together. I'm not accurate enough to make sure every thing is done just right in order to make all those corners work for me. I'm kinda lazy and not motivated to pull things out and do them again if they don't work. This way, I get to avoid as much of that as possible. :)

Next time, I'll show you my completed quilt top and we'll start talking about sandwiching.

Happy sewing, M

Stanley says "Can we go out and play with those birdies now?"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prize Winners

Can Elizabeth and Justine please send me an email with snail mail addresses so I can send you a little anniversary gift?

Thanks, M

Monday, July 27, 2009

Five Years

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of my first post on blogger.

It's been a heck of a ride since then. The name has changed, the look has changed, even the focus has changed. But its still me and mine.

When I look back and think about all the blogs that have come and gone in that time, I'm rather amazed that this one is still here. Granted, there have been some long spells when it wasn't overly active, for various reasons. But all in all, I have been happy to be here.

So with that in mind, I thought I'd have a little give away to celebrate.

All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what you would prefer - quilty or knitterly gift, and would you rather a book or stash enhancement. Then we'll do a random draw and send away a little treat or two.

Happy Monday everyone, M

Friday, July 24, 2009

Instructions Errata OR I Changed My Mind

I changed my mind on the instructions for the I Spy quilt, for sanity's sake. I'm trying to make this as straight forward as possible and don't want you to get frustrated so please forgive me for making changes after the fact.

Moral of the story? Put the quilt together first then post the steps. :P

Instead of sewing all the orange 2.5" squares on first, I attached a brown sashing to the left-hand side of each feature fabric 8" block. Like so.

Some of my fabrics definitely have a right-side up so I positioned them the way I want them to look in the finished quilt, and stitched the brown sashing to the left-hand side of the square.

The reason I did this first is that I think it will be easier to proceed this way. But then it's up to you to decide what's best for your process. You know there will be an uneven number of sashings with 2.5" orange blocks in order to compensate for the border of the quilt. It'll make more sense when we get to that step. Just trust me for now, please.

Now that we have the feature fabrics involved, this is what it will look like before we stitch them together.

That makes a bit more sense, right? You can see why some sashings were without an orange block and some with. Easier for piecing, yes?

At this stage, I want to point something out about ironing while quilting.

In order to get the different stages of piecing to fit together, you need to iron seams in different, but form-fitting directions. You can see here that I've ironed in opposite directions.

When you lay one piece on top of the other for the next stage of seaming, they will snug together and leave less of a fabric hump to get over with the sewing machine.

In order to make sure I get this snug fit each time, I figure out which direction I need to iron each piece by playing with them together . Then once I have the direction determined, I iron every single piece of that construction in exactly the same way.

For example, all the brown sashings with the orange square attached were ironed with the seam laying towards the orange square.

To make it fit snugly with the feature fabric/brown sashing pieces, I ironed all the feature fabric/brown sashing pieces with the seam laying towards the feature fabric.

Once the seaming is completed, your feature fabric blocks will look like this - two sides finished.

Next time, we'll lay all the blocks out, figure out an arrangement and start putting them together. The finish line is in site!

Happy seaming, M

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The In-Between Time

In between my found quilting minutes, I managed to knit up a pair of baby leg warmers. So easy to carry in the purse for those waiting-in-line minutes and the like.

Apparently fashionable babies everywhere are sporting them with their diapers and t-shirts. These ones are tiny, newborn size for the first weeks at home.

I made them from leftover sock yarn and the pattern from The Expectant Knitter.

My mom bought me this book when I first told her I was pregnant. It has some very cute patterns in it, like that pair of soakers on the front cover that I definitely need to add to the list!

Speaking of wee little things, here's our Stanley helping with the baking.

If you look very closely on the left side of the photo, you can see tiny white paw prints. I personally choose to deny the existence of such things. It keeps my baking self very happy to live in a state of unknowing.

You can also see Sailor in the background, trying to look like she had no idea what was going on. Yeah, sure!

Hope you're all having a lovely Wednesday. M

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Spy Quiltmaking, Part 2

I apologize for the delay between posts but as I'm still sewing in my "found minutes" the quilt isn't going as fast as it might for other quilters. We'll get to the end eventually, though! ;)

Okey dokey. From where we left off last week, you should have your brown sashing pieces looking like this:

Two diagonal corners have orange squares sewn diagonally to them.

It's time to trim these corners, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Using one of your quilting rulers, line up the seam to the 1/4" mark, rotary cut off the remainder. It will look like this:

Make sure you do the same for both corners on all the pieces.

Using a dry iron, press the seams on the back to one side (I chose to press towards the brown this time because I like how the pieces look with this direction.) then flip the fabric over and press again from the top.

Once all 48 of your sashing pieces are made ready with ironing, you are going to add two more littlest orange pieces to each brown piece.

Attach them with diagonal seams again, using the chain piecing to speed things along.

You'll be trimming to 1/4" seam allowances and pressing again until all your brown sashings now look like this.

Now that the sashing pieces are ready, you can attach the 2.5" orange squares.

Just lay the larger orange square on top and stitch it on.

Keep in mind that you only have 30 of the 2.5" orange squares so not all of your sashings will have an orange square attached to the end of it. In fact, you'll want to only attach 29 of them to separate brown sashings.

Press the seam open again and you should have 29 sashings that look like these two.

The last orange 2.5" square will be attached to a sashing that already has a square sewn to it. So you'll have one brown sashings that has two orange squares. Trust me, it'll all make sense when we get closer to the end.

And that's where we'll leave off today. Next time, we bring in the feature fabrics.

Hope you're all having a lovely Monday! M

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Making of an I Spy Quilt - Part 1

With a baby on the way, I find that I'm drawn to more children's quilts. Duh, yeah, obvious, I know.

Anyway, I decided to document the process from start to finish for a friend or two, ahem, who might have been saying they want to learn to quilt. No pressure, though. Just some step-by-steps.

First, I love the idea of quilted learning so an I Spy quilt makes perfect sense as a crib-sized quilt. (Although I'm not too fussy on the finished size as long as its in the ballpark.)

Keeping the I Spy idea in the back of my mind, I noticed our LQS (local quilt store) was carrying packs of novelty fabric cut into 8" x 10.5" pieces. Perfect. With 10 in a pack, I picked out two with more masculine fabrics for our baby son.

I cut these down to 8" x 8" and have 20 of them so I can make a quilt of 4 x 5 blocks.

Knowing that I didn't want anything to0 fancy or complex, I started looking for fabric for a simple sashing between the feature fabrics. Digging through my stash, I found a nice brown textured chunk that would work and cut it into 8" x 2.5" pieces. There are 49 of them.

I decided I need some brighter corner pieces so using this orange piece of fabric, also from the stash, I cut it into 2.5" x 2.5" squares. After cutting 30 of them and realizing that I have another piece of orange fabric, I decided to make the corner squares into corner stars.

This means I needed to have 196 little 1.5" x 1.5" squares ready for seaming, too. (Don't be intimidated by the big number. They go pretty fast with a rotary cutter.)

Once finished with these little ones, the cutting process was complete and I was ready to start sewing.

The first step of the seaming process is to attach a 1.5" square to each corner of the 8" x 2.5" brown sashing strips.

The little squares need to be attached diagonally to each of the corners. I just place the fabrics with wrong sides together and sew from one corner of the orange piece to the other. (Feel free to draw a diagonal pencil line, if this is more comfortable for you. You could pin it, too, if that helps.)

I do one after another, after another, as this helps to speed things along, as well as save on thread. It's called chain piecing because you create a long chain of pieces.

Once the first corner of each brown piece has a little orange square attached to it, I did the opposite diagonal corner. So by the time I was finished with this step, each brown piece had been through the machine twice and had two smaller orange squares attached to it.

Okay, that's where we're ending today because that's as far as I've gotten with the steps, and thus the photos. Tune in later this week for more.

And for our furry cuteness intermission, here's Stella giving Sailor a bath.

She sure likes to keep everybody clean, that Stella cat!

Hope you had a crafty weekend! M

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Cuddling of Cats and Dogs

It's easy to see in our house that world peace is a real possibility. I mean, if ancient, instinctual enemies can cuddle and share space, why can't the rest of us?

Molly and Stanley have it all worked out.

Emmett and Stella have it cased, too.

In fact, most days, I catch Stella giving Emmett a bath, but they were too modest to do it for the camera this time.

That's it for my soapbox today. World peace - it can happen.

In crafty news, I bring you another found-time project. This one is a cradle quilt for the baby's nursery that I pieced mostly in those minutes I keep finding in the basement.

It's a four-patch in blues and golds, with a contrasting soft red fabric that features prams and babies on it. I still have the hand-stitching on the binding to do but that's for movie night.

Once I get all the pieces done for the cradle, I'll take an ensemble photo and tell you all about it.

Hope you're having a crafty kind of Thursday, M