Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Andrea Wallflower" Quilt

Photo credit: Kathy Olkowski

Love these pictures Kathy took of the Wallflowers quilt top I had pieced for her last month...

Photo credit: Kathy Olkowski

She posted them on her blog today.

That blue Montana sky makes my heart ache....  Brings back fabulous memories of my trip to Sisters, Oregon almost 3 years ago....  And that barn....

Photo credit: Kathy Olkowski

Absolutely love these pictures!  They are a far cry from the pictures I tried to take last month when the sun refused to shine.

Photo credit: Kathy Olkowski

Kathy even coordinated the red baler twine with the red binding on her quilt!

Photo credit: Kathy Olkowski

It never ceases to amaze me how quilting and binding can bring a quilt to life.  And, Kathy's quilting is the best.  (I still can't figure out how she does that freehand loop design so perfectly!)

You can read more about the fabrics here.

Backing Fabric Selections

I was thrilled to unexpectedly come across this backing fabric last week at JoAnn's!

Oh my, that Simplicity logo brings back memories of sewing almost every piece of clothing I wore during my middle and high school years....

Hadn't seen it anywhere before this!

The colors are perfect for the Dutch Pinwheel quilt that I just finished stitching.

It will give it a bit more interest than what I normally would have chosen for the backing - a solid cream or a 30's print.

But, I like the idea of mixing eras when the colors work nicely together!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scrappy Trip Meets IKEA

I've been so stalled out on my Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt....

I just couldn't decide how I wanted to quilt it.... I was planning to use perle cotton and hand quilt it using an orange peel design as I posted here, but the more I thought about it, the more I wasn't sure I was happy with the backing and binding fabric I had chosen, wasn't sure if the pink perle cotton was the right color to go with (especially since there's an ocean of different colors in the quilt, including lots of orange), and I wasn't sure I wanted to put all the effort into hand quilting it, especially when it's so busy and the hand stitching wouldn't really show up that well.  (Don't be alarmed - this is my normal thought process on just about every quilt I do!!)

But, when I came across this IKEA fabric in my sewing room the other day (a coordinating print to the fabric I used for my aprons), I realized this could be the perfect backing fabric!

I just adore these little veggie characters!!

It seems wild to switch from the original plan of pink and aqua to these fun primary colors, but it works!  Paired with a cheery green binding, I think it will be perfect!

Only problem, I need another three yards of fabric....  I found the additional IKEA yardage on Ebay, but it was way too pricey.  Then, it dawned on me that I could use this print from my stash, even though I have to run the text vertical vs. horizontal, but that's OK, isn't it?  It will give the quilt more interest.  And, besides, I need to keep in mind that this is a Scrappy Trip quilt!
(Thanks, Kathy O., for your encouragement!)

As of today, I'm planning to machine quilt this orange peel design with a neutral thread.  But of course, I reserve the right to change my mind!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ila's Carolina Lily Patience

I need another hand project to work on now that I've finished piecing my "Hex on the Beach" quilt top!
I've been wanting to get started on hand quilting this Carolina Lily, but knew I should wait until I finished the hexagon quilt; otherwise, neither would get finished!  

This quilt top has been patiently waiting to be hand quilted; I finished hand piecing it way back in 2003!  

(Can't you tell by the dated tone-on-tone floral fabrics - all the rage at that time!)

It's such a special, special quilt to me - the only quilt I've totally hand pieced (other than English paper piecing, of course).  Originally I only intended to stitch six blocks for a wall hanging, but I saw a Carolina Lily quilt with this layout at the Red Rose Quilt Guild's Show & Tell show (I'm so sad - they don't do that amazing quilt show any more...) over ten years ago while I was in the middle of the project.  I loved the setting...

 ... as well as the interest the eight-pointed stars add.  So, I headed back to the fabric store to purchase enough additional fabric to make a total of 16 blocks - thank goodness it was still available!  

I finished piecing this quilt during the final days of my mother's battle with cancer, thus the name "Ila's Carolina Lily".  Because of all the time that went into it and its special meaning to me, I wanted to make sure the hand quilting did it justice.  But, I got stuck - I just couldn't decide on how it should be quilted, so it's been waiting on me ever since!

BUT, the beauty of getting stuck is that it often leads to something better than had it not sat and "percolated".  Thankfully, this special quilt top continued to wait on me until all the final design details came together.  

First, I needed to find some quilting stencils that were a good match for the design of the quilt.

 I found these stencils at the Lancaster Quilt Show last spring; one of the vendors had a HUGE selection of hand quilting stencils - exactly what I had been needing to see.  I wanted something angular yet flowery to match the lilies - these were perfect.

Next dilemma would be to find a backing fabric.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find the right shades of pinks and greens to match my 90's fabric, but I found this fabric on a table of discount flat folds at one of the local shops (it must have been left over from the 90's!).  I couldn't find a plain fabric that felt right, and I did want a bit of a design to the backing.)

Not only do the colors work well together, but even the design of the fabric works well with the stencils.

I was even able to match up the pattern on the fabric when I pieced the backing.  :)

I'm probably most grateful for the delay of completing this quilt because it resulted in my decision to use perle cotton instead of hand quilting thread.  Had I quilted it ten years ago, I would have simply used cream hand quilting thread with the traditional tiny stitches - what else was there to use and how else would I have done it?  But, most recently, I've fallen in love with quilts that are hand quilted with various shades of perle cotton using larger "utility" stitches, such as this beauty.

So, now the decision was what shade of perle cotton to use!  (I ordered my 12 gram balls of Finca perle cotton through Presencia America after ordering a color card of their perle cottons; it's almost impossible to figure out what shade to order without seeing a color card, and none of the local shops carry perle cotton in this weight.)  It's hard to tell in this picture, but I trialed three shades of pink as well as a spool of  hand quilting thread in pink as well.  I definitely liked the beefiness of the #12 perle cotton (thinner than #8, but heavier than traditional hand quilting thread), and decided to go with a medium shade that showed up nicely on the ivory, pink and green fabrics without being too distracting.  (Don't be dismayed at my sloppy stitching - I simply wanted to get a feel for the look of the thread; I'll do a much better job on the actual quilt!!)

It looks good on the back as well.

This was the winner!  :)
I'll be using a #9 embroidery needle instead of a between needle that I always use for hand quilting.

The next decision was what batting to use. (Are you exhausted yet?!)  I usually use Mountain Mist's Quilt-Light, a 100% polyester batting that is flat, economical, and needles very easily.  But, I've been eager to get away from polyester batting; I've been wanting to find a 100% cotton batting ideal for hand quilting, but hadn't found anything that needled easily enough.  I'd love to try wool, but it's pricey and requires a bit more care when it comes to laundering.  Fortunately, I had some scraps of Quilters Dream 100% cotton batting in the request loft (their thinnest loft) left over from a basket quilt that I had machine quilted a few years ago.  This particular batting seems to needle well even with the thicker perle cotton; I like the low loft, and it's available at one of the local shops at a decent price, so I think I'll give it a try.  (I also experimented with some of the Hobbs Heirloom 80% cotton/20% polyester batting, that huge roll of batting I purchased earlier this year for machine quilting, but it didn't needle as easily and had too much of a loft for this particular quilt.)

Only one more decision(s) is left - how should I press the seam allowances? Open? Or, should I press them to the side?  If to the side, which side???  (I never pressed the seams - couldn't make up my mind!!)  I'll decide that later - enough decisions for today!  :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Some More English Paper Piecing!

Ever since seeing this amazing quilt, I've been wanting to start one of my own.  So, I quickly stitched up a sample, but I just don't like it....  Too dreary, even though it's in my beloved 30's prints.  :(  I think it needs to be in brighter fabrics?  If I do use my 30's prints, it probably needs some more white tossed in like this version.  Or, maybe I should do more of a scrappy approach instead of stitching each of the six diamonds out of the same fabric??

Now that I've tackled hexagons, I'm eager to try some English Paper Piecing with diamonds.  But, this project definitely needs some tweaking. 
 Maybe something more like this (love it!!)??


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Back to Hexie Flowers

Now that I'm finished with my "Hex on the Beach" quilt, I figured would go back to stitching some more hexie flowers.  After stitching stacks of coordinated ones like these, I think I prefer the scrappy look better - go figure!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hex on the Beach Bittersweetness

I am so, so sad to be finished hand piecing this "Hex on the Beach" quilt - I don't know what to do with myself now - feel like I've lost my purpose in life for the moment (I'm exaggerating, of course!).

It was such a pleasure to piece!  Totally brainless, as I purchased it as a kit and didn't have to make a single decision once I figured out the best way to prep and stitch the hexies.  It was the perfect way to unwind from the day, or sit and stitch when I didn't have brain power to do something more taxing.

I had been slowly working at it ever since I purchased it last June.  I never thought I'd have it finished by now; typically I work on a project like this, take a break, then pull it out later.  But, those hexies are so addicting (as so many of you know!) that I steadily worked at it without taking a break; then I really got motivated once the end was in sight.

These supplies had been sitting on my ottoman all this time; feels sad to put them away.

There were few missing pieces; I was make do for the most part, but I'm still waiting on one more green hexagon from the company.

My dear longarmer friend, Kathy O. over at Stitch by Stitch, offered to quilt it for me, but after putting so much time into it, I'm feeling like I should attempt to machine quilt it myself.  

I'd really like to quilt it similar to the way it's quilted in this picture, but I'll need to hone my machine quilting skills at bit before attempting this design!

Oh dear, what hand-piecing project should I work on now?! 


Monday, February 10, 2014

New Cutting Mat

This HUGE box arrived today...

with my new 24x36" Olfa cutting mat.  I have no idea why I waited over 20 years to upgrade to a larger mat.  My original mat held up so well that I could never justify replacing it...until the grid lines disappeared from all the cutting I've done over the years, and until I saw how cheap they are through Wawak.  It's a great source of sewing/tailoring supplies - quick service, good pricing, and reasonable shipping.

Should have done this years ago - the larger size is way more practical!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bull's-eye Pillow

I stitched this "Baby Bull's-eye" pillow last evening; the circles are left over from the "Bull's-eye" quilt I stitched earlier in the year (pictured in this post) as well as referenced herehere, and here.  It was inspired by this photo on Allison Harris' Cluck Cluck Sew blog.  I love it!

The back is a Sunday Morning Quilts-inspired slab of patchwork in an attempt to use up all the scraps I have left from the original Bull's-eye quilt.  I have cut out blocks for two other quilts from these scraps, and still have quite a few small pieces left over!  This slab was going to be a runner for the hutch in my quilt studio, but it just felt too busy for the room.  However, it works fine as the back of this pillow!

The circles are simply machine stitched, using the raw-edge applique method.  I used Essex Linen for the background - the first I've tried using it.  I like it!  I like the texture it adds.

I took a few more pictures indoors attempting to get a decent shot of the pillow.  How in the world does one take pictures at this time of year??!!  Everything is white outside, and there's not enough light indoors these days!!

I still have lots more circles left over.....  I think I'll stitch a second pillow since I have enough patchwork to make another back like this one, then maybe do some wall art for my sewing room.