Jan 302012

I finished the leaf quilting on the crib quilt, and it went fine.

This was the first time I used Warm and Natural batting and I’m really liking it to work with.





Next up was the Quilt-along’s next lesson, following a line.  I grabbed my first practice sandwich, which happened to be stripes, and followed some straight lines up and down, then sideways and angled. My machine hampered some of the angled ones because cramming the sandwich through the throat at an angle was difficult. That’s worth knowing for future projects – consider turning the quilt instead of working at an angle.

Then I switched threads and worked on an old piece, quilting in the ditch.

After I had worked two rows up and down, two sideways, and the last two angled one way then the other, I checked the back. Not only do I have trouble following the line sideways,

I have tension problems.

After that, I did some follow-the-fabric-design lines, these gentle curves. After doing a chunk, I turned it over. Ugh! Tension way off, but worst only in certain directions. Check out these one-sided eye-lashes –

I looked again at the crib quilt I had just finished all that leaf quilting on – nope, back looks fine. Then it dawned on me.

I had changed threads. I honestly thought both these threads were the same weight. I bought them from the same company, but they changed brands at some point. Apparently the new and the old aren’t the same. In fact, I think my bobbin tension needs a little bit of adjustment to handle the newer thread.

Live and learn. Or maybe that should be “sew and learn”? (There’s a good motto for someone!) Always check the tension for each and every thread. For now I will stick to using the older thread for my practice sessions, rather than mess with the tension. Though I am still going to test it before my next project.

Next up I basted the top half of a charity quilt made from old orphan blocks. Charity quilts are great practice pieces, by the way. Make some. I free-motioned in the ditch along the side of most of the strips, planning the path ahead to eliminate starts and stops. I stitched toward me, what I call “down,” as if I had the walking foot in place. That went fairly well, I even managed some even stitches. But I cheated – I turned the quilt.

Then, here, I turned the quilt and found myself with a lap-full. Ah ha, I thought, this is where it would be useful to be able to straight-line sideways. So I turned the quilt back and did that. Not very well, even going very slowly.

Eventually I realized it might work better to actually guide the quilt, not just pull it sideways. I focused on guiding it with my left hand while the right pulled. That was a little like rubbing my head and patting my tummy, but it worked better.

Then I realized I couldn’t see where I wanted the needle to go (I’m not using the best foot for this job), so I tried twisting my head around to the side, and sighting down the line I was trying to stitch sideways. That worked! I wouldn’t want to do hours in that position, but there are times when it is useful to go sideways, in the ditch.

I’m tempted to quilt the flying geese in the ditch, for sideways and diagonal practice.


 January 30, 2012  Posted by at 7:28 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along 4 Responses »
Jan 282012

For the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge, January’s tutorial  was a leaf design. I did leaves on most of a layered fat quarter, until I got bored with the heart-shaped leaves.


I also tried out the leaf with spiral variation from Frances Moore’s blog (no pic taken), which was fun to do but the result did not inspire me. I played around until I came up with a leaf shape I liked, then basted one of my UFOs and had at it. I’m almost done with the main body, no idea yet what I will do for the border, maybe another’s month’s tutorial will have something?

 January 28, 2012  Posted by at 8:27 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 262012

Week Three of the Quilt-along was about scale. Here’s my practice piece –

I used an empty cardboard spool for the big scale, my finger (actually my thumb but I couldn’t twist my hand around enough for the picture) for medium, and a pen for small. The idea was to aim for a 1-inch, 1/2 inch, and 1/4 inch scale. I’m not sure mine measure that, but I did swing three sizes. Actually, once I saw this pic, I realize my thumb-scale crept upward a little in size as I worked.

I found the big scale quick, but I don’t care for the looks in this size piece. For a bed-size quilt it would work fine, and I will keep it in mind for future charity quilts. I am comfortable with the finger-scale version, though the UFO I am thinking of using it on still needs basting.

Meanwhile I pulled out another UFO (I have plenty), and used the pen-scale (I’m sure it’s closer to 3/8 than 1/4, but small enough) stipple on the pieced part of this horse-themed wallhanging. Maybe I will find the right design for the borders later in this series.

(I adjusted the contrast to make the quilting stand out, so the colors are a little off.)

 January 26, 2012  Posted by at 4:23 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along 1 Response »
Jan 232012

For the quilt-along I am following, I started a bit late, they are already on Week Three.

To catch up, I did Week One and Week Two of the Free-Motion Project’s quilt-along yesterday. I’ve been FMQing a few years now and have never managed stippling. The random movement eluded me for some reason. But by the time I was done yesterday, I was having fun, and now I’m trying to decide which of my many UFOs to stipple. I think I’ll end up doing some stippling, but not the entire quilt, on two different projects.

Here’s Week One’s result –

You can see where I started with simple U shapes to the left, and I shifted to smaller ones after 3 rows. The smaller ones were easier for me. On the right is my attempt to do Y shapes and lobster claws in rows. There are a few in there – but I kept getting carried away by the wiggling motion. Wheee! My lobster claws grew barnacles.

For Week Two, I started with simple Us down the center to divide my practice sandwich.

Can you tell which side is the random, start-in-the-center version and which is the rows? I couldn’t either. I labeled these two pieces so I could remember later which week was which, and included a notation for random and rows. As I took pictures, I looked closer, and found where I had done my center start –  – and I had my label wrong!


Here’s the random version –

And the row version –

Don’t believe me? Start at the lower left in the last pic and follow the stitching with your finger. See? Three rows. Kinda lumpy ones, which lets them blend together, but it worked for me.

 January 23, 2012  Posted by at 3:50 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along No Responses »
Jan 232012

I spent an evening making practice sandwiches for the free-motion quilt-along and challenge. These are easy to make.

Start with culling your stash. Fat quarters are a good size but whatever you’ve got that you’d just as soon not have in your stash will do. Chose two pieces close to the same size.

Now rustle up some batting scraps, like trimmings from a prior project. Cut a piece of batting the same size as your fabric.

Smooth it out on your cutting board (or work table or floor), then lay one piece of fabric face up on top, smoothing it out. I started with the back but it works either way.

Flip it over and lay the other piece of fabric on top, face up,                              and smooth it out. (Two hands recommended, I was holding the camera in the other.)

Flip it back over and smooth again, at least once more each side. I used a cotton batting, which sticks nicely to fabric. You may need to fasten your bottom layer down if you are using poly. (Blue painters tape works fine on tables and cutting boards and hard floors. Try pins for carpet.)

With the top-side up, baste with your favorite method. I tend to use pins. Spray baste is fine if you like using it, or thread-baste, or if the layers are staying together well and your piece isn’t too big, straight-stitch a few lines to hold it together.

And there you are. Practice quilt sandwiches. Now go practice.

 January 23, 2012  Posted by at 3:35 pm Tutorials No Responses »
Jan 202012

SewCalGal is hosting a Free-Motion Quilting Challenge, with monthly tutorials and prizes. You have to actually do the tutorial and blog about it in the month it is posted to enter for prizes, but if you hate deadlines or are reading this post months from now, you can still watch and follow the tutorials.

I find deadlines very helpful. And I love prizes, even if I rarely win one. One finish-along, one free-motion quilt-along, and now a free-motion quilting challenge. Maybe I’ll actually get some quilting done this year!

My sewing room is finally usable and I have put the binding on the first quilt for the finish-along. It now feels finished, but it still needs a hanging sleeve and a label to be truly finished.


 January 20, 2012  Posted by at 9:25 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 182012

We’re back online after 3 days without internet (due to the lag time between taking the antenna down at the old house and getting it installed at the new one). Here are a few tidbits from this week as I get caught up with my surfing.

My sister’s quilt is featured on Generation Q magazine – (scroll down) – which makes me want to explore the site further. First foray found this amusing glossary.

I’ve found a free-motion quilt-along to help me with the finish-along! I am still a novice free-motion quilter, even after all these years, and can use all the help I can get. And since many of my unfinished quilts have stalled at the quilting stage, help quilting is help finishing.

My initial block for the Improvi-Robin is in the mail. I found this orphan block while packing my sewing room for the big move, and managed not to lose it in the shuffle until I unearthed a bubble-mailer to stick it in.


 January 18, 2012  Posted by at 5:16 am Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 122012


I mentioned in my year-end review that I had finished 9 quilts last year. The ones I finished, as opposed to the many I worked on without finishing, were mostly those with deadlines. There’s something about a deadline that motivates one to keep working.

The first one finished was a mystery quilt published in American Quilter magazine. They ran a contest along with the mystery, which I entered. That gave me a deadline, and I did it! Finished the quilt and entered it. And I was selected as a finalist – that was fun. I didn’t win though, story of my life. Call me The Runner-up.


I counted that one as a UFO completed, because I used some old blocks for the focus blocks. They were leftovers from the quilt I made my sister (not the quilting one) for a wedding gift. So they were special to me, even if the judge thought the other choices were more intriguing.


Then I made four quickies to send to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. I sent them to a drive by Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. Nothing special here, but fast. And they had to have them by the end of April to get them shipped over. Another deadline.












Soon after I felt the urge to play with some carefree piecing and threw this together – a banner-size wallhanging. Best part was I finished it the same week I started it. Imagine if I could do that every time – whoo.




Next up was a gift for our neighbors who were having a baby. I’d been playing with One Block Wonders and made this for their little girl. July delivery meant I had a deadline for that one too.


In a fit of finishing euphoria I managed to complete the first OBW I made, this one from an autumn leaf print. Not enough contrast here to really stand out, but I’d used the only fabric in my stash that had enough repeats. I donated it to a local charity fundraising auction.





The next five months I was busy in the garden and finished nothing. Finally in November I completed my oldest UFO, nearing 20 years old. One of these days, when I get organized, I need to check my old journals and figure out exactly when I started it. I call it My Forever Quilt because it took me forever to make and I will keep it forever. It was among the first five quilts I started, the rest were finished (or given away as tops) years ago. My mom gave me the fabrics for Christmas one year, so it’s always been sort of special. Having worked on it so long, it has become part of me.

It is not, however, big enough to use on our bed.

 January 12, 2012  Posted by at 11:25 am Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 052012

My sister sent me a link to a Finish-Along.

The gist is participants try to finish a bunch of existing unfinished projects (new projects don’t qualify). I have plenty of those! If we post pictures and descriptions of the UFOs we hope to finish, then at the end of the quarter post pics of the finished ones, we get one entry per finished quilt toward various drawings.

I’m a sucker for giveaways, so this will provide incentive to actually finish something, not just aim to finish then get sidetracked by something new and shiny.

Here’s my list of projects I hope to finish this quarter:

1. A chair drape for my office chair. I wanted to finish this one before moving, but got sidetracked. I have made the strips and the next step is a one-step assembly and quilt process. I need to pull together the backing and batting next.

2. Charity quilt. A quick top I threw together from orphan blocks and odds and ends. It came out surprsingly well, and was fun to do. I need to find backing and get it basted.

3. Pansy wallhanging. Need to zigzag the edges of the fused pansies, then layer and quilt. I can’t remember if I have backing picked out. I might. I started this one as a quickie, because I’d been quilting and felt the need to do a little piecing. The scrap blocks were already done, so the top went together fast. Then I decided to add fused pansies, and they didn’t bond as well as I would like (could be the age of my fusible web), hence the need to zigzag. Other projects called me away at that point.

4. Aliens quilt. A wallhanging. I made several quilts using shoofly blocks, starting with a jelly-roll. I meant to finish them, I really did. I have backs ready and everything, just never did make it into quilting mode. I think I got sidetracked by the chair drape project. Or moving. Or both.

5. Shoofly quilt. This was the first one of the shoofly quilts. I had tried something different for the setting but it didn’t work as well in practice as it did in theory. So I changed it. I want it quilted and done.

6. Squiggles. I took some bitty scraps from the shoofly series and made a confetti style quilt. It was kinda boring, so I added bias-tape squiggles. It is ready to baste and quilt.

7. Moo-ry Christmas. I started this one last July, intending to so something fun and fast. It was fun, but not so fast. I quilted it in quarters (to be easier to handle), and didn’t fully plan out how I was going to attach the pieces. I ended up having to hand sew cover strips on the back over the seam allowances. That is finally done, and it is ready to bind. I still have to make the binding. You can’t tell in the picture below, but the black outlined squares have cows with Christmas hats on.

I was going to add a couple mystery quilts but I think 7 is enough. I’ll be lucky to get one done.

My biggest challenge will be finding numbers 1 through 6! We’ve just moved, and my new sewing room is in total disarray. I know where number 7 is, even found the binding fabric. The others are in a bin – somewhere. I think. Maybe they are on a shelf – somewhere.


 January 5, 2012  Posted by at 12:57 pm Finishing, UFOs 1 Response »
Jan 042012

Year In Review posts seem to be all the rage across the blogosphere. I thought a quick review might be a good way to start my new blog.

I used to blog over at blogger.com, (http://abbysquiltblog.blogspot.com/) but quit posting when I decided to move to my own domain. It’s only taken me 8 months to get here, so I ought to have a lot to get caught up on in a year-end review, but I won’t bore you with it all.

Short version – I started too many quilts and finished not enough. I did finish 9, not too bad, even if I didn’t make my “11 in 2011” goal. Off the top of my head I can remember 8 starts. If that’s an accurate count, I’m ahead by 1! Hah, not so bad after all. Not much of a dent in the pile though.

Here’s my most recent finish, also my oldest UFO, nearing 20 years old. Nearly vintage! I started it in 1992 or 3, I’m not quite sure which winter. It got put aside many times along the way. Finishing it made me so happy I decided I’m keeping it for ME. I call it “My Forever Quilt” – it took forever to finish it and I’m keeping it forever.


Three days after finishing that one, we bought a new house.  That’s the exciting news for 2011. We’d been hunting for the right place for 5 years, and now we’ve got it. And the best feature is the HUGE sewing room!

Didn’t take me long to fill it up though, all I had to do was empty the old one into a big pile. My new sewing room soon looked like this –  – actually, it’s worse now. Hubby insisted we had to move everything NOW and refused my request for shelves first. He muttered something about having to get the garage fixed up (which is still in process) – HIS space.

I’ve bought cubes instead but I’ve only assembled half of them. I hope 12 double-cubes will be enough to hold that mess in the middle of the room, at least temporarily.

Once I clear the pile in the middle I can bring in a table and start sorting everything out. I’ve already purchased new bins so I have some empties to sort into. When I’m done with that I can decide on priority projects for 2012 – if it isn’t 2013 by then.

 January 4, 2012  Posted by at 3:09 pm Year In Review No Responses »