Thursday, August 27, 2009

We Interrupt Our Regular Scheduled Craft Blog

To bring you updates on . . .

The flooring in our bedroom and the hallway getting replaced, and

Stanley's challenge finding comfortable sleeping spots in the summer heat.

There is still a bit of crafting going on, though. Like a new sweater and some soakers for our baby boy. (Please excuse the flash-less orange glow.)

In baby news, we have less than 8 weeks to go until our official guess date. I'm still pretty exhausted and getting a bit restless but very excited to meet him, too.

My blogless friend, Maria, who just had a baby girl in July, tells me these last weeks are the longest wait ever . . . and she's done it twice so I'm taking her word for it!

Hope you're all having a great week! M

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sandwich Anyone?

At long last, I am getting around to talking about the I Spy quilt again. Sorry for the delay but it's been a busy couple of weeks.

Before we start talking about sandwiches and quilting, I thought I would show you the completed top, as modeled here by my lovely assistant.

I am very pleased with how it's turned out. It should be an excellent quilt for tummy time with Baby Boy. Lots of interaction and learning to be done on here!

Given that this is going to be the "go-everywhere-do-everything" blankie, I decided to keep the insides durable but trim.

Thus I sandwiched it with an ugly 1980's piece of jersey in the middle. And on the back I have a cutie rocket ship flannel, also with the idea that it might entertain a little boy.

I am of the mind that what I put in the centre of the quilt should be about what it's going to be used for. This will hopefully be dragged all over the countryside, to the park, in the car, everywhere. Thus it shouldn't be too bulk and definitely washable to the max.

I know. Purists everywhere are cringing. Meh. My baby, my quilt, my decision. As it should be yours when it comes time.

Okay, next step. Find a thread that's going to blend in the way you want it to, or stand out the way you want it to. I picked a variegated colour that changes along the way but isn't too noticeable. I want more of the fabric to stand out.

You can see here that I ran it across several fabrics to see if I would like the subtle effect of the thread colour. I'm good with this one in gold/brown tones.

Now you get to decide what kind of pattern you want for the quilting. For this one, I didn't want anything too busy to interfere with the fabrics. I chose a modified Grecian key.

I pulled out my marking pencils (you use whatever marking device works for you) and I started free-hand lines. I prefer the relaxed look of free-hand work, even on a very boxy kind of quilt like this one.

To see the effect up close, take a look at this guitar block.

Enough lines to keep the fabric in place, but not so many that it plays havoc with the eyes.

So repeat this process until all your blocks and the whole quilt has been quilted. This size blanket and this simple pattern took me the better part of a Saturday - about 7am to 2pm. It's a big job but it's also the part that finishes the look so should be given it's due attention and time.

Oh, and my favourite part of the quilting process? Having an A-1 assistant like Sailor to help!

"I'll hold it here for you!"

Happy quilting, M

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Perfect Quilter Does Not Live Here

Seriously, she doesn't. I don't even know her personally but I have read about her quite a few times.

Perfect Quilter has points that are . . . well, perfectly pointy. Her corners match each and every time. She rips seams, re-sews, and rips them again if they don't shape up to her ideal. She doesn't hesitate to trim each piece. . . block. . . section several times until it's just right. She revels in the process and glory comes to her in the perfect finish of every one of her quilts.

She is so not me.

I am definitely a destination girl, as opposed to the journey girl, when it comes to quilting. (David tells me this is true of many of the things I do but that's an argument for another day.)

I may get some points to be perfectly pointy but that's mostly a random happenstance. I guarantee, though, that of all the stars on a quilt, some (or maybe only one) of them will have perfectly pointy points.

My corners mostly match but only because I learned how to iron my seams to do the snug-fit thing. If you make me sew a giant row of corners that are supposed to match, though, only some of them will make it.

I will only seam rip if there is absolutely no way in Hades that I'm going to get it to work (or almost work) any other way. If I have to rip the same seam more than once, there will be cursing. I would rather cut more fabric and try again.

I get close enough and trim to make it fit. I will short sew a seam all the way along if that's what it takes to get an approximately 8" or 10" or 12" block.

I revel in the glory that is a finished quilt that looks just as good from a distance as Perfect Quilter's quilts do up close. I mean, really, does the Quilt Inspector live at my house? Nope. And mine are just as pretty and warm on a cool night on the couch as anybody elses.

The real bonus of my quilts, though, is that they are my creations, in all their glorious imperfection.

And I can't wait to make another!

In my reality, that counts way more than any old perfectly pointy points.

Happy crafting, M

(Hmmm, now if I could just get this attitude with the rest of my life.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hints From The Close Enough Quilter

Otherwise entitled, Things I've Learned About Quilting Along The Way.

I have been sewing since I was 5 or 6 years old. It's a genetic thing in our family. I come from a long line of sewers and crafters.

So I was no stranger to a sewing machine or to the sewing process when I decided to take up quilting a few years ago. I figured it would be pretty straight forward moving from one form of fabric craft to another. Oh, how wrong I was.

Quilting has its own language, its own tricks of the trade, and its own sewing machine know-how. There are also ironing tips to learn, tools you've never heard of before, injuries that crop up as a result of addictive behaviour, and so much more.

As an example, let's discuss this picture in terms of quilting.

First, we have that cute little line of hearts tape attached right to the bed of the machine. Why so, Moda Yoda?

Well, in quilting, all seams allowances come in 1/4", not the 1/2" of clothing patterns. And this 1/4" seam allowance is very important to the quilting process. Lose the 1/4" and you compromise the integrity of the quilt.

The tape on this non-quilting (but still okay for quilt piecing) machine is placed exactly 1/4" from the needle, all the way down the bed. That way, the quilter can follow the edge of the tape with the fabric to achieve the perfect seam (okay, in theory that's what I could do, though it doesn't always work out that way).

Second, what is that scrappy, thread-infested, tiny piece of fabric doing under the foot, Obe-Wanna-Janome?

That, my friend, is a good way to save on thread, keep the thread from bunching up under your first piece in chain-piecing. It is a great way to feed triangles through the feed dogs without their slipping into the hole. It is an excellent method for keeping the thread threaded through the needle rather than losing it to the upward thrust of the machine.

In short, young Fabric Walker, it is sanity itself.

What else might a quilter notice about this picture, Thread-Eye Master? Other than the machine is sitting on a cutting mat with two rulers behind it, not to mention the stack of fabric pieces in the corners, this is not a quilting machine. It is just an ordinary machine (remember the 1/4" tape modification) that is serving very well as a quilting machine.

A quilting machine is like a Millenium Falcon compared to a freighter. If you ever get to the point where you want to make the commitment to a Millenium Falcon, I mean a quilting machine, you'll know you're committed to the Force, er, the Craft.

Happy stitching, M