Feb 27

WIP Wednesday

2016-10-17T20:45:32+00:00 February 27th, 2013|

I thought it would be nice to have a list of my WIPs (works in progress) and NESYs (not even started yet).

I haven’t touched my machine in over a week. I wish I had the motivation to work! My sewing machine is in my dining room, which in the winter is dark and cold. It is hard to push myself to go over there in the evenings and get some sewing done. Sigh. I really wanted to get a nice quilt done to enter in the Minnesota Quilters show, but that would be due April 19th, so I don’t have much time left!

Anyway, here we go.


 1. Supernova. I really like this pattern at Freshly Pieced. Lately I have not made many quilts from other people’s patterns, but this one was just so pretty and easy. I recently ended my moratorium on designer fabric buying and had some large-scale prints to play with. I also decided if I am going to make it, I am going to make it BIG. There will be 25 eighteen inch blocks, plus a border. This baby is going to wind up around 100 inches square! I am done 18 out of 25 blocks, though the photo is old and only has 14.

The reason this is still a WIP: choosing and cutting the fabric has been kind of agonizing. I have cut and re-cut so many different gradations of 6 fabrics because this one or the other just isn’t quite right. I could probably make a whole quilt out of the fabrics I cut but then didn’t use. I figured out after a half dozen blocks that I needed to lay out each block and make sure it looked right before I started sewing. I wound up scrapping one block and performing surgery on two more. This is one I hope to finish for the MQ show in April.
2. Tula Pink squirrel dahlia. This one I just started a couple of weeks ago, and will likely also get finished for the MQ show. I love this line of fabric (I bought half to a yard of several prints in it). I wanted to do something that for once showed off the fabric and not just the pattern. I got EQ7 for Christmas, and so just browsed in their whole quilt blocks and found a dahlia. It looks really hard and complicated, but the pieces are gigantic so it shouldn’t take too long to finish. This is all the inner dahlia pieces laid out. I still have to pick a solid and design a border.
3. Vintage Jacob’s ladder. This I started not too long ago as a leader/ender project.  All those sheet strips are sewn to a white strip and just need to be cross-cut into twosies and sewn into four-patches. This is another big one–I think 90 inches wide at least? Anyway, this is a long-term project to just work on as I go.

4. Bali Wedding Star. Ugh. This quilt is the bane of my existence right now, and has been for the last year and a bit. The pattern is here. I decided that I wanted a challenging quilt to work on in about November of 2011. I signed up for a class at Glad Creations, because I wanted to see what a class was like and the instructions that come with the pattern are not wonderful. I spent a month dyeing the 14 different gradations, as well as I think 10 different backgrounds, and star centers and points.

Don’t get me wrong–this quilt is gorgeous, and I am excited for it to be finished. However, my precision piecing skills are not the greatest, and when I got to the point of sewing the blocks together I kind of stalled. It took something like eight attempts to just get that one block on the right together. (A block is four arch sets). I have all of the arch sets and block components sewn and done, I just have to sew them into blocks, and then sew the blocks together, and design and sew a border. And quilt this other very large quilt. I added a row, so it will be something like 92″ x 108″ or something. I am tentatively aiming to finish for the state fair this year, so I have until August.
5. Patchwork curtains. I need some curtains for in front of my three stained glass windows in the winter because the sun beams right in my face when there are no leaves on the trees. I thought to make the curtains exactly like the windows. We will see how that goes. I have drafted the pattern and started sewing, but stalled when I ran out of fabric and need to dye some more.
NESYs are tricky.  I have a few stacks of almost started quilts. They are waiting for inspiration, a pattern, or just time to work on them. Some might never become a quilt in their current stack, but I like looking at them. I don’t like having too many projects on the go at one time, so there is that, too. Once I finish Supernova and Dahlia I will likely dig into a few below.
1. 100 shirts. I started hoarding collecting shirts from Goodwill Outlet after I read “Scraps & Shirttails” by Bonnie Hunter. I usually prefer less traditional fabric, but there is just something about a quilt made from plaid shirting. So cozy! I am aiming to collect 100 shirts and make them into a bunch of stars for another large quilt. Right now I have about 70, so I am getting there.
2. Starry night. I dyed a gradation of every one of the 9 blacks I have. I want to make something with a lot of stars and play with the values here.

3. Backyard baby. I have no idea what I am going to do with this yet, but I really, really like this line. I have to choose a pattern carefully because there is not much variety in value here and it would easily go wrong.

4. Allegria LeMoyne. I really, really want to make a LeMoyne star quilt, and this navy Allegria fabric might just be my favorite fabric I have ever seen. I bought many yards of it, plus a yard of a few of the coordinating prints. I think that is a bit of Amy Butler on the top, too. I need to finish learning EQ7 so that I can actually design this thing and get started. 

5. Batik bowties. This will be another leader/ender project from the book “Adventures with Leaders & Enders“, also by Bonnie Hunter (it’s on the cover). This is other big one. I had 10 yards of two different really bright batiks cut into 4 inch squares to make yo-yos that I got sick of making and was never going to finish. I dyed all the squares to tone them down a bit and am going to cut them all into two inch squares for the bowties. I also dyed some lights for my background. I have no idea what the sashing is going to be yet. 

6. Unamed project. I really like these colors together right now–olive green, teal, plum, and gray. I don’t know if they will become a quilt or not, but I enjoy having the stack out to look at!
That’s it for now!
Feb 25

Quick & easy watercolor quilt from charm squares using “Quilter’s Grid”

2017-02-12T22:18:35+00:00 February 25th, 2013|

In January, our guild had an “Out with the old” challenge, where we were to use up some of the oldest fabric in our stash. Back when I first started quilting (I think around 2006), I bought four packages of 100 floral 4″ charm squares on eBay. The person selling them was putting them up for bids and they were going ridiculously cheap. Then, I had my daughter, moved to a different state, etc. etc. etc. and never got around to making a quilt with them. By the time it was a few years later, my tastes had changed, and I realized that these fabrics weren’t the greatest quality and I wasn’t really sure what to do with them. So I stuffed them into the back of the closet and forgot about them.

When I was digging through my old fabrics for this challenge, I came upon them and I thought “Why not make this even harder on myself? I should cut each 4 inch square into four 2 inch squares!” (Ha ha.) I wanted to do a watercolor-style quilt, and the 4″ squares were too big.

Laying out the first of 1584 squares on the first two of eight panels.

I got some “Quilter’s Grid” from Jo-Ann’s with a coupon. If you have never seen it, it is a medium-weight fusible interfacing with a pre-printed one inch grid on it. You can’t see the grid in the above photo because it is fairly faint. I had seen a quick way to sew it together on the Internet where you fuse down all the squares, then fold the interfacing to sew all the horizontal rows together. You take scissors to snip open the seams and press them all open (I cheated and took an extra-wide seam and then cut them open with a rotary cutter). You then sew up the vertical┬áseams, cut them open and press the seams open.

I didn’t want to have the whole gigantic quilt all fused together in one piece, so I did it in eight smaller panels. My seams were not perfectly even, so at the end when I was basting the quilt was a little buffl-ey because of the extra stiffness.

After the first set of horizontal seams sewn, cut and pressed open.


After the vertical seams were sewn, but before cutting apart.


Finished top from the back


Look at how much such tiny pieces shrink! The bottom panels started out as wide as the top panels.


After I laid it all out, I decided that the line between the dark and the mediums was too horizontal, and I spent an hour pulling little squares off the interfacing and re-fusing them. It wasn’t hard, just annoying.

The quilt was easy to quilt because it was so stiff, and I was worried that it would stay stiff, but I washed it four times after finishing it and it softened somewhat. I imagine that over time it will soften even more. (Update: after a few more washes you can’t even tell there is interfacing in the quilt!)

Finished top from the back.


It looked so pretty held up to the light!


Feb 20

Pineapple quilt–paper pieced quilt with a rainbow gradation

2014-10-06T16:42:55+00:00 February 20th, 2013|

I finished this quilt I named “Pineapple” in November. I designed this paper-pieced block earlier this year for the QuiltCon block challenge. The block alone was pretty plain, but when joined together and colored like this looked so much different! I decided to enter this in the QuiltCon show, but failed to get in.

At first glance, the blocks all look the same, but there are actually six slightly different blocks in here.

I had been working on a number of 24-step color wheels for my color swatch book and decided to use up a bunch of my new rainbow-ey fabric. I wanted to do a gradation from one color to another, so for one type of patch it goes from yellow-yellow-green to blue-green, and the other pieces it goes from yellow to red-violet.

For the back, I decided to try an 8-step gradation between yellow and blue, but all poured on one large piece of fabric. With all the seams in the front, I didn’t want a lumpy back, too.

Feb 5

Boston Roads car play mat / quilt

2016-10-17T20:45:33+00:00 February 5th, 2013|

In 2011, I made a play mat for my kids to drive their cars on and play with.
This was kind of complicated, and I am happy that I won’t have to do it again. I first took a screen shot of the Boston harbor from Google Maps. I placed it into Adobe Illustrator, and traced all of the major roads with a wide stroke (a tiny bit bigger than the width of a Hot Wheel car). The resulting map was way, way too busy, so I deleted about half the roads, trying to keep in the biggest ones like Mass. Ave. 
Boston Roads quilt
I then printed out the 49 pieces of paper that made up the illustration and traced all of the roads etc. onto a whole cloth gray backing. I used the giant pattern to cut out all of the heavily starched green, blue, and colored pieces and raw edge appliqued them on with a zigzag stitch.

I then made a million miles of very dark gray bias strips for the roads. I basted the wholecloth quilt, and appliqued on the roads through all four layers (road, top, batting, and backing) so as to quilt the mat in one step. This step was very fiddly because not only did I use an extra-thick batting, but I had to figure out how to interleave the roads so they all tucked in under each other and there were no raw ends (I was not 100% successful, but close).

I would have included the airport in this map, but I wanted to include where we lived and so I couldn’t without making the quilt another 12″ bigger or so. We lived right across the street from the Back Bay Fens (that blob of green with the squiggle of blue in the lower left corner). The giant red blob is MIT, and the yellow blob is the downtown hospital. The orange blob is a random one to try to balance things out a little. The green blobs are all actual green spaces in the city, like Boston Common.