Friday, December 23, 2011

Quilt #52 - A Memory Quilt

This memory quilt is another lesson learned.  If you read about the saga of quilt 51, you will appreciate this one as well.

This quilt is a Christmas gift for my mother.  I wanted to make her something sentimental, and personal, and enduring.  In my desire to make it perfect, I messed it up.

I love my technique of backing a quilt in fleece.  It's a snuggly result that is flattering as well.  I laid out my fleece and noticed it has some stretch to it.  It would take some aggressive basting to make it work.

I started pinning from the middle and did everything "right".  The big problem came when I was finally able to quilt it.  I wanted to border each square in quilting stitches, but because I wasn't fully quilting the whole top I had  a problem.  The backing stretched out when I quilted it, so there ended up being huge ripples in the back, and I didn't discover these ripples until my bobbin thread ran out.  I was a disaster.  I tried a bunch of techniques to fix it, but there was nothing for it but to take the backing off and start again.

Here are the photos of the Memory quilt from start to finish:

This is one of the big lessons that I learned in the 52 quilts project.  Sometimes there is no substitute for time.  There are time-savers.  There are short-cuts.  There are ways to make something fast, but sometimes the real road to the finish line is not always the fastest path.  It's very true for quilting.  I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to finishing the musical thangles quilt without a deadline... It deserves to have some time spent on making it right.  Just like the memory quilt deserves the same thing.

I succeeded in making 52 quilts this year.  Many of them were small.  Many of them were ambitious.  Some of them were absolute failures.  All of them were one of a kind.  I learned a lot of new techniques.  I think I became a better quilter.  I did what I set out to do in 2011.  On to the next quilt!

Quilt #51 - Art Quilt Batik

Ok.  Here the troubles began.

I had my last two quilts almost finished.  I was working on top-stitching on this one, and all I had to do was a bit of free-motion quilting on the last one.  They were both pieced and constructed.  They were both a few hours from being finished, and I had one day until my deadline.

I was quiling away using my free-motion foot, and all was well... and then the open-toe foot stopped bobbing.  The machine was still stitching.  Everything was in order, but the foot was not bobbing up and down.  I looked at the clock:  8:45pm.  Not enough time to get to the only shop in town that stocks parts for my machine (the Joann's on Elston in Riverfront Plaza (by the Target, and the Petsmart, and the big movie theatre, and that crazy good bbq place) has a Viking Shop in it).  I don't have a 'walking foot' for the machine, so straight stitching on quilt 52 was going to be a impossible, and it wasn't an option on this one. 

I called it a night.

I knew it was goign to be a stretch to get all that work done in one night, but it was my only option.  I went to work the next day, and I decided to run down to Joann's to get the foot for the machine (if I could afford it! Argh!) and then run home to do the quilting...  The part was cheaper than I though it would be, and I had a gift card!  Pow!  Done!  Obstacle:  Overcome!

Once I got home I started baking some Cajun Chicken, made some curried okra and rice, and sat at my machine with "It's a Wonderful Life" playing in the background.  I had four uniterrupted hours to finish before it became December 23rd.  I had maybe 45 minutes of work to do on this quilt, and a couple hours of quilting on quilt 52!  I was going to make it!

I started stitching...  And I am not exagerating, kidding, or being dramatic... I made FIVE STITCHES and


I had tripped a breaker.  Apparrently you can't run a toaster oven, a microwave, an Xbox, a 32" television, an iron, and a sewing machine on the same circuit without tripping a breaker... STUPID CAJUN CHICKEN!

I got my keys, and exited my apartment to find the box.  The door that it was behind had a COMBINATION LOCK on it.  WHY!!??  To p*## me off.  That's why.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!??

I call my landlord.  No answer.

I call the emergency line.  They take the info, and tell me to wait for their call.

An hour later I call back.  The emergency service cannot get the guy on the phone who is supposed to be on call 24 hours to come fix problems with the building.  He is AWOL. 


I sit in my dark apartment... and I make a decision.  Well, honestly the first thing I did was take the food out of all the appliances and put it in the freezer to keep it cold until the power came back on.... the, I made a decision.

If the power came back on, I would quilt.  If it didn't, then I would have to finish the 52 quilts project exacly 1 day late.  And I would have to be okay with that.  There was nothing I could do, except maybe take all my quitling accoutrments to Starbucks and use one of their outlets...  I think they frown on that kind of thing...

I didn't get power back until December 23rd at 9:45am.  I took my quilting at a liesurely pace and finished this one in a little bit under an hour (and enjoyed a lovely cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee...).

This quilt is a departure from any quilt I've ever done.  My inspiration was the fabric alone.  I just made it based on the tone of the fabric and the sort of shapes that occured to me from that source.  I don't do this enough.  This quilt is a step in that direction.  A side note:  I really love art quilting.  I hope to do it more in 2012 than I did in 2011...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quilt #50 - Holiday Tree Skirt! Merry Christmas!

When deciding what to make for KBC's parents, I discovered that they have been using a fabric scrap as a tree skirt for years.  Voila!  That was the gift. 

I did a bargello trip around the world pattern, then cut off the corners at a 45 degree angle to create an octogon.  I cut out a row of squares to the middle, laid it out with backing, batting, and top.  Then I quilted it, cut off the excess backing and batting, and bound it.

I love the way it turned out!

The one down side that I discovered as I was quilting was that the fabrics that we picked out for the top were all very bright and cheerful, but they might not match every holiday decor.  The solution:  back the skirt in a more neutral but still festive fabric.  I chose a rose pink and forrest green floral/stripe that is classy, but still in the holiday spirit.  I think that the skirt will match any holiday tree now, and I hope that they use the skirt for years to come!

Sorry, for some reason, blogger won't rotate my photo!  Here's the skirt under the tree!  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quilt #49 - A Holiday Candle Mat

This candle mat was made with fabrics selected by my wonderful boyfriend for his parent's Christmas present.  The candle mat was a sort of "bonus quilt".  It was made out of the "left-overs" from another project, but I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

The big project that we decided to make was a tree skirt.  KBC picked out fabrics that he thought represented each of his family members (and himself), and I wanted to put them together into an appliqued masterpiece.  After much deliberation, I decided to make the skirt a patchwork, and thought it might be fun to use my favorite trip around the world pattern (thank you Emily Bodkin for introducing me to this technique!!  I will be forever in your debt.)

I made the trip around the world, and then I cut off the corners to make an octogon shape out of the square quilt.  I realized that I could put those triangles together and make a bonus quilt!  It turned out great, and I would highly reccommend this technique to anyone making multiple gifts for the holiday season!

I've included a photo of the skirt with the corners cut off so you can see where the components of the mat came from.  I backed the mat in a festive Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer scrap that I've had hanging around with nothing to do with it.  I'm so glad that it got used finally!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Quilt #48 - Miniatures Series Two

These little gems were custom orders from a long-time friend.  I love the way they turned out, and am so pleased that they got to be included in the 52 quilts project.

These tiny quilts are dime-sized, but don't let their small size fool you.  It is more complicated to put these little guys together than a lot of the large scale projects I've done.  Every other person I've seen do miniatures this small just lays the fabric in layers and glues it in place.  My minis are quilted and stitched like real quilts.  There are seams, there is batting (allbeit tissue-thin), and there are quilting stitches on top. 

I hope that the recipients of these mini quilts love to wear them as much as I loved to make them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quilt #46 & #47 - Chenille Scarves

I had never done chennille before, but when I saw this pattern in American Patchwork and Quilting I knew I had to try it.  The first time is was exposed to this technique it was on a Public Television program.  Two ladies were making VESTS and there were a lot of very restrictive rules about how to cut and make the chenille fit into the shape they were using.  It seemed daunting, but the AP&Q pattern was simpler, and a lot more straight-forward (probably becuase scarves are just rectangles).

The other fun part of the chenille is that I got to buy a new toy!  I purchased an Olfa Cutter specifically for Chenille.  It really did the trick, and I can think of a dozen other uses for it...  And I really loved the chenille technique and will probably do it again soon.  The Olfa Cutter made it so much easier than using scisors!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Progress on the 52 Quilts Project.

My deadline is approaching so quickly!  I have given myself until the 22nd of December to get all of these quilts done, and it's going great!  The musical thangles quilt is coming along....

All the hst's are cut out, and I am making progress on the blocks.  I have been chain piecing, which has saved some time, but the crazy part about this quilt is that the blocks are massive, but complex.  The picture above is 3/4 of one block.  There are 20 blocks in the quilt.  Each 1/4 of the block is 8 hst's and two solid squares.  Each of them have to be pieced in an exact order or the star doesn't turn out.  This means that I actaully have to PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to every bit of sewing I'm doing.  Not a great choice for the end of my deadline...

The other interesting bit is that many of the remaining quilts are CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.  I cannot post photos until I have finished them.  I made a set of miniatures for a someone that are gifts and won't get posted.  I've got one for K.C. that's almost finished, but I'm nt posting photos of it until it's after Christmas.  I've made a quilt for my Mom that I'm not posting until after Christmas.  So, that's three quilts that you definitely will not see posted photos of until after the holiday.

The other projects are:

2 quilted chenille scarves (pattern from AP&Q)
A tree skirt (applique pattern by me)
The Musical Thangle Quilt (the red and white masterpiece above)

I know I'll finish the project, I just wish I could post photos about it all, but I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone.  It's such a huge part of the fun of giving for me and hopefully part of the fun of recieving for others.

If I have time before the end of the year (and the start of next year's resolution) I'm going to put together a slideshow of all 52 projects.

Quilt #45 - Stack and Wack Crazy Quilt

This is a super simple technique that I read about and had to try.  The technique, as far as I could tell, is called "stack the deck".  You make a random cut, then shuffle your stack of fat quarters.  Then make another cut and do the same thing.  I decided to try this out in a super simple and fast way.  I only made two cuts to make nine crazy rectangular four-patches.  I like the results, and I'll try this technique again in the future.  I tied the quilt using burgundy embroidery floss (it's what I had on hand! :)  ), and backed it with one of my favorite "cheater quilt" fabrics (a fabric that looks like a hexagon charm quilt).  The whole project just took some extra time on a rqndom quilting night.  The cutting I did on my way out the door one night.  The piecing of the top I did when I got tired of another quilt that I'm working on.  The quilting I did during "Modern Family".  Done!  Very simple, and a fun result!  This one definitely goes on the "do again" list!