December 17, 2015

Masquerade and Quiltcon 2016

Earlier this year, I discovered a blog post by Marji Roy at Ashbee Design featuring a canvas art design created using masking tape.  The design is quite striking, and I thought it would make a great quilt block.  I translated the design to fabric, repeated the block in a 3x3 layout, and came up with this quilt:

The quilt came together quickly and easily using strip piecing methods.  The solids are Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Limeade and Malibu.  I had used these solids together in another project to coordinate with some prints, and thought they would work together well on their own.  I didn't realize until after starting the quilt that I had chosen a blue which is the color of painters' tape, so it ties in nicely with the inspiration source -- hence the name "Masquerade."

For quilting, I started with straight lines stitched with a walking foot.  The parallel lines in the outer triangles were done by using the edge of the foot as a guide, and the remaining straight lines were marked with a hera marker.

I then added dense FMQ to fill in the open areas and accentuate the diamond shapes.

I used leftovers to increase the width of my backing fabric:

Now I just need to add a hanging sleeve, so the quilt can hang at Quiltcon 2016 in Pasadena (!!!!!).  I am thrilled that it was accepted.  I've seen some stunning quilts which did not make it into the show, so it is a surprise and an honor to have a quilt there.

(I did submit a couple of quilts which did not make it into the show -- "Ode to Joy" and "Ombre Hombre."  These two were also turned down for Quiltcon 2015, so it was not a big surprise to receive the "Thank you for entering..." emails once again.)

I finished "Masquerade" back in October.  It was fun to photograph with the autumn foliage.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday. 

December 1, 2015

Fresh Cuts

I've been busy cutting fabrics for several new projects.  The fabrics in the below image are primarily from Sarah Watts' Honeymoon collection; these will be used with Amy Smart's "Modern Buzz Saw" pattern.

Another new project will also use Cotton + Steel fabrics.  The strips in the bottom of this image are for an original design, one that I hope will come together quickly.

The pieces in the center of the photo are the background pieces for the Honeymoon quilt.  The top pieces are for a mini quilt using Amy Barickman's Vintage Made Modern.  I was given a small charm pack of this fabric (22 pieces).  This mini will be a leaders and enders project -- which is why I wanted to cut several projects at a time.

You may have noticed that these projects all have one fabric in common -- Dotties Cousin in natural by Rashida Coleman Hale.  I guess I am on a Cotton + Steel kick.

I'm linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday.

November 6, 2015

A Picnic table runner

I made an online purchase of a few small cuts of Melody Miller's Picnic from Cotton + Steel, with a general idea for a table runner and some place mats.   When it arrived, the scale of the prints was not what I anticipated (although I knew to expect surprises).  As a result, I came up with a different plan, featuring the red apples and some fussy-cut picnic baskets.  I paper-pieced strips of 1x2 flying geese to use as sashing.

I quilted straight lines in the setting triangles using a ruler and a new Westalee ruler foot.

For the apples, I used free-motion to outline the design.  I filled in around the flying geese with tight back-and-forth stitching, hoping to avoid ditch stitching around all those little geese.  But I felt it still needed the stitching around them.  I went back and added it with FMQ and red thread (no ruler).

Instead of my usual label, I used the selvages to create a label:

I still want to make some coordinating place mats, but I don't have a design in mind yet.  In the meantime, I've purchased even more of these fabrics with definite plans for a twin-size quilt.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday. 

October 12, 2015


Our local guild, the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville, held its biennial Fanfare Quilt Show this past weekend.  Here is the view as you enter the hall:

Yes, that is my "Ode to Joy" quilt, front and center! ***Best of Show!!!***

This was quite a surprise!  There was a lot of talent represented in this great show.

I was happy to learn that the judge recognized some of the musical references in the quilt.  I heard that she even sang the tune represented by the music notes for some guild members in a walk-through Thursday night.

I had four quilts in the show, and received a couple of honorable mentions in addition to the award above.

My "New Star Rising" quilt was entered in the "First HQH Fanfare Quilt" category:

"Peach Kaleidoscope" was entered in the "one maker, extra large, pieced" category:

And "Pickled Leftovers" was entered in the "small, pieced" category:

I wish I had a photo of all the folks taking my photo when we arrived Saturday morning.

This was a great experience, and I appreciate all the hard work by our guild members in putting together this show.

October 1, 2015

Some gifts

Just before heading off for her freshman year of college in August, my daughter asked me to make her a pillowcase.  Of course I agreed, and figured it would be pretty simple -- but it soon became clear that what she wanted was a pillow sham instead of a pillowcase.

I had used this tutorial before, so it seemed a good choice this time.  I made a couple of modifications, re-sizing it to fit a standard pillow, and quilting the front panel.  Using a quilted front makes a few of the steps trickier, but otherwise it worked out OK.

I quilted the front by following the printed design, then filling in the background with pebbles.

The quilting doesn't show very well in the front photo, so here's a shot from the back (inside?):

And here is the actual back of the sham:

Getting good miters was difficult with the thickness of the batting getting in the way.  The corners are not perfect, but they are not bad either:

Her roommate had bought matching bedspreads for their dorm; the only color reference I had was an online photo from the store.  When I delivered the sham, I could see that the colors in these Amy Butler 'Bright Heart' fabrics are actually pretty close to the bedspread in hue, but noticeably brighter.  Still, it looks good in her room.

I made her a regular pillowcase too, using Dotties Cousin from Cotton+Steel and a Medium Pearlized Spot from Robert Kaufma, along with a bit of Bright Heart trim.

I enjoyed working with the bright Amy Butler fabrics.  I think someone should try out a mash-up of Bright Heart with Anna Maria Horner's Loominous, and maybe even throw in a few fabrics from Jennifer Paganelli's Caravelle Arcade (but not me -- I've got enough projects in the queue!).

I also completed another wall hanging based on our church logo.  This time I used prints, and quilted with straight lines, which gives it quite a different look:

Both gifts have been delivered to their recipients.  Yay!

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

September 2, 2015


I've sewn the inner borders to my Broken Star quilt (I chose option B), and was looking forward to adding the final border, when I made an error of judgment.

My plan was to fussy-cut the linen fabric below for this last border so that it had 4 "stars" across plus 1/2-inch seam allowances.  But it turns out the design was not printed straight across the width of the fabric.  The top strip in the image below is the result of attempting the fussy cut -- you can see how much bow is in the strip by comparing it to the lines on the cutting mat.

I figured I'd just have to cut with the grain of the fabric, ignoring the printed design.  The bottom strip shows two resulting cuts joined end-to-end.  I'm afraid the skew in the design would be too distracting if I were to use this.  I cut up my full length of fabric this way, too.

Of course, after cutting it all up, a possible solution occurred to me.  I think it might work to cut strips from the length of the fabric, instead of across the width.  I've ordered more fabric (luckily it was still available), so we'll see how that goes.

I'm linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday.

August 18, 2015

Auditioning borders

I'm making good progress on my Broken Star quilt.  The main part is assembled (with lots of Y seams!), and I am almost ready to add the borders.

My original plan for the borders was a 1.5-inch (finished) inner border of the background fabric, followed by a 1-inch border of scrap diamond strips, another strip of the background at 1 inch, then an outer 6-inch border of a linen fabric.

To audition this idea, I spread the top out on the floor and placed cut strips along one corner, overlapping the strips where possible to reveal the finished width.  I tried a few arrangements and took photos of each.

Here's the original idea (or as close as I could get; the outer background strip would finish narrower):

I think the inner border might be a little wide at 1.5 inches.  Here it is at 0.75 inches:

Or I could eliminate the inner background strip altogether:

Here's another approach.  Not sure I care for this one.

Or I could go even simpler.  There are a couple of drawbacks to this one, though.  I'd need to buy more of the linen fabric to get the width I want, and I'd have to sew with a 1/4 inch seam (I'd prefer 1/2 inch for linen).

I have a preference already, but I won't reveal it just yet.  What do you think?

I'm linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday.

June 30, 2015

Quilt surgery

After piecing together some diamonds for a Lone Star quilt, I decided one of the fabrics was not working well.  Four small diamonds of this fabric were already in place, so it would take some surgery to replace them.  I wasn't thrilled about tackling this -- I was afraid it could go really badly -- but I felt I would not be happy with the quilt if I did not take this step.

The process would require exposing some bias edges, so I added some stay stitching along these edges before unpicking the seams.

The gray/aqua batik is the one to be replaced.  (I continued the stay stitching across this piece just to avoid some starts and stops.  And looking at this photo, I realize the stitches on the right should have extended up one more diamond.)

I also added stay stitches to the new fabric, before sub-cutting the strip.

After unpicking the seams, I was left with this hole:

I stitched in the new diamond, working in reverse order from how the seams were unpicked, so I attached the top and bottom edges first:

Then I sewed the side seams and removed the stay stitches:

It's not a perfect alignment, but it's no worse than the original.

The process was tedious, but not particularly difficult.  Here is the center with all four replacement diamonds in place:

I had begun work on some outer diamonds using the same "bad" fabric.  I ended up discarding one strip set and remaking it (since I had already sub-cut that strip set); for the few remaining strip sets I just had to replace the one strip.

I'm pleased with how the diamonds are looking now; I think this was a worthwhile step.

I'm linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday.

June 16, 2015

Starting a Lone Star project

I'm starting something new:

It's a Lone Star type design, with a semi-scrappy approach inspired by Edyta Sitar's Sunset Star quilt (from Scrappy Firework Quilts).

I've assembled the main star, but I have more diamonds to make (I'm using a "broken star" configuration).  More strip sets ready to be sewn:

After looking at the finished star for a few days, I've decided one of the fabrics is not working for me.  I'm thinking of doing some surgery and replacing four of the small diamonds (a crazy step, I know).  Here's one option:

And here is another:

And here is the original for reference:

I'm leaning towards option A, as it seems to blend best with the other aquas, although I do like the print design of option B.  Which do you prefer?

I'm linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday.

May 15, 2015

Pickle Dish

I first posted about this project about eight months ago -- and it is finally complete!

I used the Pickle Dish pattern from Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance.  The pattern is featured on the cover of the book, and my original color inspiration came from the photo on the back of the book:

Obviously I strayed a bit from that original thought, but I did keep mostly to turquoise blue and bright pink, adding navy centers and a spring green background.

The pattern recommends strong contrast for the fabrics in the arcs.  I learned as I went along that some fabrics did not provide the contrast I had hoped; some of the "in-between" fabrics worked better for darks than lights, and vice versa, so I adapted my plans a few times.  I wanted less contrast in the four-patch units, to draw less attention, so I kept them in the medium to dark range.  I preferred "busier" prints in these squares too.

This pink arc with the flamingos is one of the lightest arcs on the quilt, but I couldn't resist using it:

I collected enough different fabrics for this quilt that I didn't really need more than a quarter yard of any of them (other than the background and border, etc.).  I bought most of the fabric in half-yard increments, though, so for the quilt back I cut 17" squares from 30 of the prints and pieced them together with half-inch seams.

One mistake I made was cutting too many small rectangles for the arcs, including cutting up entire half-yard cuts of some of my favorites.  I had quite a few of the rectangles left over (I used some for the border of this mini, and for this pincushion).

For quilting the arcs, I chose a simple straight-line design.  I had trouble quilting these free-hand, so I purchased a long-arm ruler to try.  It worked out pretty well, even though my hopping foot is not circular:

The shape of the foot restricted the angles I could use, and caused some variability in the distance from the ruler to the needle.  I wasn't always able to line up the destination point just right; I eventually decided it was OK if the quilting didn't line up exactly with the piecing.  This picture shows how I estimated the end point:

I also had to be careful not to apply too much lateral pressure against the hopping foot.  The foot is flexible enough that a couple of times I pushed the flange over underneath the needle.  I broke three needles on this quilt!

The ruler I used has a thin strip of Velcro on the bottom, which keeps it from slipping; it also helps to guide the quilt sandwich under the machine.  The ruler also has a couple of posts to use as handles.  Note how they barely clear the threading lever!

I tried to keep the quilting on this one simpler and less dense than I often do, to allow the piecing to shine.  I got a little carried away with feathers in the background pieces, though.

I followed the example of the pattern and used a stripe in the border.  I used the ruler again to quilt diagonal lines.  The binding is an Amy Butler fabric which has most of the colors used in the quilt.

I had more trouble with puckers on the back of this quilt than I've experienced before.  I don't know if I didn't baste very well (I use basting spray plus scattered pins), or if I tugged on it too much as I was doing ditch quilting around the arcs, or if it was the way I used the ruler.  Once I realized it was happening, I added safety pins to the center footballs, then free-motion stitched around them before quilting the diagonal lines.  I don't know how much that helped, but I did not have any more puckers after that.  I repaired the worst of the puckers by redoing the quilting in those spots, with additional basting from needle and thread.

My projects tend to alternate between bright fabrics and more muted tones.  I'm pretty sure my next quilt will not be as bright as this!

I'm glad to have this done in time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side.  I'm also linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

Previous posts about this quilt:
    Football Season
    Background Selection
    More background musings
    Pickle Dish Progress
    Pickled Leftovers
    Some Pickle Dish pointers