Feb 062013

I should be focused on finishing UFOs, but I got sidetracked by a shiny new project.  I made the mistake of watching a Quilt Show episode where Ricky Tims demonstrates his Kaleidoscope technique, and I took notes. It looked like so much fun – and simple and easy. Why is it I think “simple” and “easy” are synonyms for “quick”? They aren’t.

Next morning I had to try drawing the pattern, before I forgot what I’d seen and couldn’t understand my notes anymore. Here it is; the lines are a little hard to see, but those funny marks are to keep track of exactly how the pieces fit together.

Fifteen minutes and I was done. After that I couldn’t resist pulling fabric. And then cutting strips, which are shown here laid out on my table roughly divided into five piles.  At that point I left them overnight, and next morning I rearranged a few. Then I realized that with strips all over my layout table, I couldn’t work on the strip-QAYG project.  And that project was using my other machine (with a walking foot), for which I don’t have a 1/4 inch foot and have trouble controlling the speed.

So I swapped sewing machines. Before I could start sewing the Kaleidoscope strips into strata I figured I’d better get a little more free-motion work done, since the darning foot was already on the machine. I finished the quilting on the project formerly known as Nightmare, a sort of flame design.

Then I grabbed a small flower thing which I had used years ago to try free-motion for the fourth or fifth time and filled in the background. It’s been wanting some stitching on the leaves and flower ever since. Now that’s done. It measures about 7 by 15 inches, a little too long for an AAQI donation, so I may trim it down before binding. I think it needs a new back too.

That out of the way I switched feet and set about sewing strips together. Great opportunity to use up the bits of thread on half a dozen almost-empty bobbins, so I did. I never seem to have enough bobbins. No matter how many I buy, I run out. I’m also trying to use up some old spools of Coats and Clark thread that are 10 to 20 years old. I’ve tossed at least 3 empty spools in the trash recently, so that’s progress. Here are the strips about half done, I’m now down to the last two seams but I needed a break.

That’s my WIPS and free-motion work for this week. Maybe next week I’ll have some finishes to show off.

 February 6, 2013  Posted by at 5:07 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along, Weekly Review 1 Response »
Feb 012013

I’ve now got a small pile of quilted projects ready for binding. One project needs a little more free motion work, but I set it aside to work on a QAYG charity quilt. When that one is done the entire batch will get bound.

I did have one craft fail when I accidentally quilted two small projects together. After considering tossing the whole mess, I carefully cut away the back quilt, leaving a sort of trapunto under the area where I’d quilted through both.   It happened to be tree trunks so a little extra thickness won’t hurt. I even salvaged enough of the underneath one to add to the side (not yet attached). After finishing the quilting (all free-motion) it looks like this (the black thing in the corner is a strap on my camera):

  Can you see the Cat Cough-up Hairball quilting on the lighter triangles? I love this filler! So quick, so easy.

Two other little projects (under 9×12 inches so I can donate them to AAQI) are waiting for binding. Spirals II is not entirely free-motion, the zig-zag portion is one of the stretch stitches on my machine. The white areas are free-motion as is the stitching on the appliqued (raw edge fused) spirals.

And this one, with the light triangle confetti, reminded me of cabbage moths so I added cabbages. They’re a little small, but all I could find in my stash. The spirals are free-motion quilted while the vertical texture is a decorative stitch.

I also did more walking foot work on a quilt I covered last week, which I was calling Quilter’s Nightmare until I realized, while quilting it, that it was my Muse! So I now call it A Quilter’s Muse, and will hang it in my studio when done.

 February 1, 2013  Posted by at 7:59 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along, Weekly Review No Responses »
Jan 252013

I’ve been quilting! First I finished Spawn with the walking foot. It’s not bound yet, that will wait until a few other projects are quilted. I used a variegated blue thread (Superior’s Rainbow, which neither of my machines liked), although a lot of the blue that shows in the pic (or maybe it doesn’t show) is from the blue chalk I marked the lines with.  

And today, before breakfast, I quilted this quick little quilt – I love a fast project! Yep, all quilted in just over an hour, a record for me. It helps to choose a simple, fast design. And it helps to have a small project – only 25×32 inches. Don’t look too close – my speed shows up in the stitch length. Oh well, you can’t be fast AND perfect.


I am currently quilting Quilter’s Nightmare; did some straight line stitching around the creature, then free-motion quilted the creature itself. I wanted to get that part done before the quilt gets too stiff to reach the center readily. I used Hairball quilting in the body with a multi-color thread. I have more straight-line stitching planned, then more free-motion on the edges.


Also started the green and pink thing (which doesn’t have a working name) which is basted and stay-stitched. I did McTavishing (as demo’d by Leah Day) on one section of pink background. It works, but I decided I don’t like it well enough to do the other sections.

And I took advantage of a narrow window of good lighting and took some pics of older finished quilts. I’ll stick those up on flickr at some point. Not yet done – my year-end inventory.

 January 25, 2013  Posted by at 7:45 pm Quilting, Weekly Review No Responses »
Jan 042013

Now that 2013 is underway, it’s time for the “here’s what I plan to do this year” post. So – here’s what I plan to do this year –

1) Finish at least 24 quilts. I am ever optimistic about how much I can get done in a year, even though years are a lot shorter than they used to be. I managed to finish 12 quilts last year, on top of moving, selling the old house, establishing new gardens and orchard here, and generally a very busy year outside the quilt studio. So this year I should be able to finish twice as many, right? No problem (she says in January).

To help me along in the finish department I plan to do the 2013 Finish-Along, this year hosted by SheCanQuilt.  In fact, I’ve sat on a couple that are waiting for bindings in order to have them qualify as finishes for the Finish-Along.

2) Follow along with Leah Day’s Express Your Love quilt project (with lessons on filler quilting) except I’m going to do a Spirit Horse instead of a goddess. With a lovely flowing mane like the hair on Leah’s goddess, begging for lots of filler quilting. I haven’t actually drawn my horse yet, he’s still in my head. The same post linked above has some other things going on I plan to follow along with, like UFO Sundays.

3) Hoffman Challenge. I did this once before (nah, didn’t win), have toyed with doing it again but most years I don’t think about it until about 3 weeks before the deadline and that’s a little late to order the fabric and get a quilt made. This year I have already ordered it and have an idea how I want to use it. I did break my No New Fabric rule to get it though. Guess I’d better make sure I follow through on this one, make it worth the guilt. All other fabric for it will be from stash.

4) Another Improvi-Robin from Venus de Hilo. I had so much fun with the last one I have to do it again. And I already know what I’m sending for my starter piece – but it will remain a secret until it’s in the mail. Interested? Deadline for joining is Jan. 14.

5) Work entirely from stash. (Except for the 1/2 yard of Hoffman fabric for their challenge, that is.) I have plenty, more than I can comfortably store and organize. I’ve had it in my head to try and use up my ENTIRE stash before buying any new fabric. I decided to make this an aspiration rather than a goal or challenge, because I expect to end up with all darkish browns at some point. That might be more challenge than I want to deal with. Though it does have possibilities – hmmm – well, no rush, I’ve got years yet before I reach that point.

6) Overhaul this website. I want to add a lot more content. First up will be a regular “UFO of the Week” post, which will start as soon as I have a few posts written ahead so I can stay regular. Looks like I’m going to need a Week in Review post every week as well. More tutorials are planned, no promise on when they’ll get posted since they rely on photos, and I tend to get behind on editing. I also need a few piddly little things like a newsletter sign-up. And redo my banner which is a little bit too long. Boring stuff like that.

7) Last but greatest, what should be a big announcement but I’m still working out the details, my newest project – UFOs4Charity. I’m setting a personal goal to finish as many of my UFOs as are suitable, and donating them to charity. I will donate to any charity that accepts quilts, whether long-established like the Linus Project or short-term disaster relief like eQuilter’s Hurricane Sandy drive.  And I want to inspire all the rest of you to follow along and do the same. Those half-done projects buried in the bottom of plastic bins because you no longer like them? Someone else will love them if you only get them finished and shipped. I plan to provide helpful info on how to do that quickly and easily, so look for more about this soon.

Dec 152012

Leah Day’s Quilt Along over at The Free Motion Quilting Project had a design last week called Cough Up Cat Hairball Filler. Lovely name, yeah? When I saw the design I thought, ah ha, that would be perfect for Squiggles. In fact, Leah mentioned that the design is sometimes called squiggles, although she thinks cat hairball is the better name. (I think she’s been hanging around her 5 yr old too much.)

It took a little digging, but I found the Squiggles top and made a backing and got it basted all in an afternoon. Fortunately it’s not real big, about 27 by 31.5 inches.

Here is Squiggles, all quilted. For a fast design it still took me several days to get it done. I suspect that might be the density of my version, I seem to have spent more time winding bobbins than quilting. I love how it looks with this quilt though. And I’m glad I picked a variegated thread, I love how the design shows up sort of patchy. If you want to try this yourself, pick a thread with a fairly long interval between color changes, so you can get the clumpy look.

Here are a couple close-ups. Don’t look too close, or you might see a few irregular circles and extra long stitches. My speed control is still a work in progress.

 December 15, 2012  Posted by at 7:59 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along 3 Responses »
Jul 292012

Free motion goes so much faster! (see Part One here) First, to refresh my skills, I finished this little thing (15×15) made with xmas prints and leftover bits. It may end up a pillow top, although it may need some size adjustment.

Now I forget what order I did them in, but that doesn’t matter. For Slasher (26×27) I used square spirals in the light area and round ones in the colored areas. That went quick.

Two more scrap tops were next, which I spent more time on. For Spirals (19×21) I tried a technique I saw somewhere online around the spirals, then did a simple spiral fill on the rest.

For Ferns (18×19) I started following the rubbing-plate design but gave it up after a few and did a big free-form flower in the center. Next I tried bubbles as a filler. Didn’t like those so I used some spirals, then had the insane idea to echo closely in the empty spaces between. What was I thinking? But I got it done.

And the big one, crib-sized. I used it to try out a number of different fills (each space is different) – you can see more in my posts for the FMQ Challenge. (scroll down, or go here and here)

The other one I quilted I already posted here. Now I need to get busy on bindings, sleeves, and labels.

 July 29, 2012  Posted by at 4:30 pm Quilting No Responses »
Jul 292012

After dragging my feet for months, I finally admitted defeat in my attempt to master my newly-acquired Juki and went back to quilting on my Pfaff.

My first few projects used the built-in walking foot while I played with decorative stitches and a little couching.

Here’s a little thing I did for AAQI, the only scrap thing I’ve been able to keep under 9×12. I had fun playing with a few of my limited selection of stitches.

Jump for Joy (34×52), I made a bad choice – close parallel lines. It took forever! Looks okay, but never again. I added a simple scalloped edge in places, not sure it shows in the pics. Then I couched some cotton yarn to give it a vertical dimension. I plan to add some appliqued circles, it’s next on my project list.

Brambles (34×54) I used a decorative stitch, which went quickly, but it’s also not done. I plan some stenciling then free-motion work.

After those three I switched to the darning foot. (see Part Two)

 July 29, 2012  Posted by at 4:15 pm Quilting No Responses »
Jul 292012

I fell a bit behind on the Free Motion Quilting Challenge after January. Partly because I bought a used Juki for my new quilting machine, but have yet to master the thing. No matter how much I use it I can’t control the speed. I would swear I’m not changing the pressure on the pedal at all yet the speed keeps shifting – faster or slower at random. I’ve reached the point where I’m going to take it in for servicing to see if it’s me or the machine. If it’s me I’m going to start hunting for another machine.

Finally the pile of WTBQ (waiting to be quilted) projects reached the point (I ran out of safety pins) that I set up my trusty Pfaff and went to work. I actually reached the point where I’m starting to feel like just maybe I can learn this FMQ thing. If only the Pfaff had more throat space!

One of the projects was a “modern” pink squares thing I threw together following a tutorial on Leah Day’s site. The concept was to practice the stippling variations she has taught, but I decided to use it to try out a bunch of filler designs I’ve been wanting to use. I also threw in some I’ve done before, and then used the three designs Ann Fahl covered in her tutorial for March for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge.

Here are the three:

Meandering stars



 July 29, 2012  Posted by at 3:56 pm Free Motion Quilt Challenge No Responses »
Jul 222012

Free Motion Quilting Challenge update for July.

I did it! Quilted the design for this month before the month was over. I missed the last 5 months due to sewing machine issues (which meant not doing any FMQ work), but I’ve got more tops waiting. Next step is to review the missed months and decide which top will get which design, although some will need practice pieces first and I may not do them all.

 This scrap top has been hanging around for a few years, waiting for me to add a little paint or something around the edges. I finally did a couple weeks ago, using a bronze paintstick and a cheap imitation cut-glass dish for the rubbing plate (literal plate in this case). I thought it would be fun to use the tiling design on this quilt and match up the “tiles” with the scrap sections. It was fun, but the end result doesn’t show up very well. I think you can see it better on the back, even though I chose a print to help hide my lovely quilting. I used a spiral fill in the purple areas and stippling in the scrappy areas. Mostly.

I’ve upped the contrast on these two pictures to help show the quiltng:

 July 22, 2012  Posted by at 10:01 am Free Motion Quilt Challenge 1 Response »