Thursday, May 6, 2021

PhD in Quilting - April Report

 In April I spent time practicing Free Motion Quilting as I worked through activities in the Free Motion Quilting Academy.  

In preparation for the Final Project, I pieced the sampler. In May I'm hoping to make progress and finish it in May or June, so eventually this will be a completed new start.

The Table Scraps Challenge led me to compete a topper for one of our bedside tables. 

The coordinating topper for my side is quilted and ready to bind, so one new start completed and one new start in progress.

My biggest accomplishment for April was completing this fun UFO. The Marvel quilt is done and ready for my son. I spent an evening sewing on binding at the ice rink, watching him play for the first time in 15 months. It was nice to get out of the house. The lighting at the ice rink works really nicely for quilt photography, so I may have to head up there with future projects.  When I first started quilting, Gus was playing youth hockey, so this is not the first quilt I've bound rinkside.

Linking to PhD in 2021: April Report

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

May's Monthly Goal

 May's monthly goal will be the Sunflower Table Runner. I started it back in the Fall of 2011.

Thankfully I stored it with a coordinating border fabric. I need to add borders, sandwich, quilt and bind.  I spent part of Saturday watching tutorials on mitered binding, so I am ready to go!

Linking to One Monthly Goal May Link-up

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Marvel Quilt Completed - Goal Accomplished

Celebration is in order. The Marvel Quilt, started in 2017, is done! My goal for April was to finish quilting, sandwich, and bind this quilt.

Tuesday night, with less than one side left to bind, I headed out to the hockey rink to watch my son play for the first time since February 2020. I shared the bound end of the quilt with his girlfriend while I stitched down most of the last edge.

Last night I put a movie on Netflix and put the final stitches in. Now to wash and pass on to the aforementioned son who has claimed this as his.

Linking to One Monthly Goal - April Finish

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Road to Rockstardom

In 2013 I invested in a Handiquilter Sweet Sixteen - Mollie - in a bid to be able to finish my own quilts without wrestling them through the small harp of one of my faithful Berninas (Penny and Bernadette). For years she sat, neglected, as I would try in fits and starts to not be afraid of failing. Perfection is buzzkill. A few years ago I committed to spending time each night working on practice squares to get over my fears and hesitation. That worked for a few months and then life happened in the form of water damage an rotting floors. I ended up sleeping on an air mattress for longer than I care to remember as we got organized and finally found a contractor we liked. But it still took months. The happy ending is that during 2020 we realized our goal of ridding the house of carpet. We also gutted and replaced both bathrooms - which Mike has wanted to do since we bought the house in 2003. It was quite the journey.

Over the years I have taken numerous quilting classes with Harriet Hargrave, Sandy Fitzpatrick and Sharon Schamber to name a few. These always involved travel with one of the Berninas. All the classes were valuable, but I was still hesitant working with Mollie.

Back in January, I learned about the String and Story Free Motion Quilting Academy and Holly Anne Knight. This is an online course - teaching 30 free motion quilting motifs and a lot of handy tips along the way. Holly Anne is vivacious and enthusiastic and an incredible cheerleader. 

The first task was to create a heap of practice sandwiches. I bought cheap muslin and cheap batting, and then decided to double my stack by starting to pull fabrics from my stash that I just don't see myself ever using in a quilt - no matter how small I cut it.  I spent a weekend assembling 30+ sandwiches. 

I also had a few sandwiches hanging out from other classes. I think this one started out in the Sandy Fitzpatrick class. And I've used it over time to test tension and play.

The intent of having so many sandwiches is to practice a motif over and over. 30 motifs leads to at least 30 sandwiches. In the first unit, I used multiple sandwiches on the same motif.

Switchbacks and spirals and lots of paisley. And as I played and moved around, I got more and more comfortable, and a bit experimental

After I stitched my continuous curves (a motif I was also exposed to in Harriet Hargrave's class) I started playing with pebbles and spirals and filling in the blocks.

I am taking this at my own pace so won't graduate in May with the Spring 2021 cohort. However, once you enroll in the course, you have lifetime access to the teaching materials so I'll continue to practice and develop my skills. Graduation involves a 30 block sampler and a fat quarter sized whole cloth quilt. I've done a lot of doodling but haven't started stitching on the sampler. As I have lots of projects ongoing, I decided to enjoy the journey. There is a new academy enrolling in May for the summer and I anticipate finishing in August.

I have learned so much about my machine and myself and I've gotten over a big confidence hurdle. Since starting the course I have finished multiple projects, including a large lap quilt (The Marvel Quilt). Well worth my time and investment!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Blue Skies and Table Scraps


I've been enjoying the spring weather and the Carolina Blue skies.  I thought of several ideas for this month's Table Scrap, and eventually decided to go smaller. I've got several projects on my plate, so decided to make a bedside table topper instead of a long runner.

I've also been enjoying the antics of our squirrels. This one was strangely hesitant and spent a great deal of time contemplating jumping from the branch to my feeder and eventually wandered back to the trunk and climbed down to the ground. Very different from yesterday's squirrel who swung himself from the gutter and managed to land on my window feeder. Had to admire the moxie, even if it did mean a trip outside to shake a branch at him and shoo him away. Not sure if this was the same squirrel who failed the leap multiple times today.

Last year, during the mass renovations and redecorating, we had fun with paint and painted our bedroom a deep blue. So when I auditioned fabrics, I headed over to compare to the walls. These matched up nicely. I then cut my strips.

The topper is loosely based on Tula Pink's block 84 that I made for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I think I'm going to make a similar one for the other bedside table, adding more variation to the widths of the strips.

Next step was to find a backing. I love this. It completely hides my quilting!

I played with several motifs on this - a continuous curve flower, lots of paisley, and meandering with leaves and flowers. The quilting actually came together pretty quickly once I sat down. This is a big change for me as I often agonize over getting started and worry it won't be perfect. I'm learning to embrace wonky.

I used a variegated thread that has some really dramatic color shifts from palest blue to darkest navy. It is actually a little jarring, and I learned that I'm less of a fan of variegated than I thought. It was a good lesson, on a small piece. Given that I have rather a collection of variegated thread, I will continue to use it but will likely do a few more practice motifs to see if it works with what I'm aiming for.

After trimming, I gave machine binding a whirl. Not perfect, but functional. I'm in the midst of hand stitching the binding on a large lap quilt so this was a good opportunity to practice a new skill.

So here we have it! My contribution to the April Table Scraps Challenge.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Carolina Blue Skies - RSC 21

 This week was largely a week of pressing corner blocks for the Bright Start QAL quilts. I did complete my 6 modern blocks for the month.

This month the blocks feature only blues (with a little white).

They are also in a tight color palette - with a limited number of fabrics across all the blocks.

My flying geese are steadily improving. Triangles still are not my favorite thing to piece.

I'm not entirely certain what shape this is... but it is done.

I really enjoy the geometric nature of this block and the contrast. I may try to incorporate something similar into a future Table Scraps project.

And here is my favorite dolphin fabric. I'm finally down to just scraps of this versus yards and yards.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

RSC 21 Under Carolina Blue Skies


The color for April is Blue - Light and Bright! I have lots of blue in my stash. Partly because I love the color and partly because I live in central North Carolina - which for Basketball fans is home to the battle of the blues. You might guess from the blog post which side we fall on. I recently celebrated 20 years with UNC Chapel Hill. My husband will reach 30 years next year. Our son is in love with a Duke fan... we don't speak sports with her family. But I digress.

This week I worked on several projects in blue.  I picked out and cut the pieces for my Modern Blocks.

This month I stayed purely blue with the blocks. And limited the palette. I used my photos to keep track of which colors went with each block as I was cutting.

Each bit was placed by number and clipped together once all were cut. So I was able to use strips of each fabric to cut for all blocks at once. They are now clipped, pressed, and tucked into the book ready for me to sew them together.  My plan was to use at least one of these as a leader/ender while sewing together binding strips, but as the binding is black and these have light fabrics, I made a string block instead.

Speaking of binding...

The Marvel quilt is quilted, and as of this writing the binding has been stitched on the front and clipped down so that I can sit and hand stitch it. It feels good. However, as much as I like the crisp look of black binding, I really don't like working with it. The first challenge was to find the black seam so that I could trim off the excess. My lighting was not up to it. I did figure out that if I lined up the seam with the 60 degree mark on the cutting mat, I could then line up the 1/4 mark of the ruler on the same line and get a crisp cut.

Thankfully, I have figured out where I went wrong joining binding strips a few weeks ago and all six strips went together correctly.  This kit provided exactly 1" inch more binding material than I ended up needing. It would have been a challenge if I had cut something incorrectly or needed to re-join anything. Big sigh of relief when I won the game of binding chicken that I didn't know I was playing.

Back to the blues.  I use a lot of garnet and gold in my quilts (I grew up in Tallahassee).  So for my Rockstar Sampler quilt, I decided to go with blues. This sampler is 30 blocks to feature the 30 motifs in the class I'm taking. As we have more blue walls in the house than red, I decided on a blue sampler.

I spent way too much time trying to decide on colors and layout. A 5 x 6 layout has some limitations in terms of pattern. I didn't want to do a checkerboard, though that would have been the easiest. I don't do things the easy way. I pulled a stack of blues from my stash and first tried a diagonal dark to light (and back to dark). Then I tried moving from blue to aqua or blue to purple. I didn't have 10 colors that played well together.

While participating in the Scenic Route shop hop a few weeks ago, I started picking up more blue. Then I found a layer cake with enough coordinating colors, so I figured my problem was solved. Except that  none of the colors had 5 squares of the same color. So I was back at the starting gate again. I didn't get a great exposure of the test layout, the colors above aren't true - the ones below are more realistic. While catching up with a good friend, I started playing with a more random color placement. I don't do random well. An hour later, it looked nothing like what I thought it would at the start.

Next step was to stack the blocks for each row. Pinned a number to the first block and the other scrap stays on the stack. Lots of hopping up and down from my machine to make sure everything was attached to the correct row.

Which resulted in 6 nice rows to be pressed. The pinned numbers helped me keep the rows in order.

And the final flimsy. Ready to be sandwiched.

I finished sandwiching during a Zoom calls I met online, some of them almost 25 years ago, through a shared interest in Scrapbooking. Many of us are now quilters. The back of this quilt is a dolphin batik (featured in one of the modern blocks) that I bought back when Gus was in elementary school and his mascot was the Dolphin. I loved the fabric, so boldly bought the end of the bolt - which turned out to be nearly 5 yards. Oops.  I'm finally down to less than a yard. I still love the fabric.

As the name of my blog implies, I quilt with a Corgi. Miss Monkey laid claim to the scraps I cut off the Marvel Quilt on Thursday night. She has carefully arranged them in her nest (which is also covered in thread clippings and fabric scraps as it is located adjacent to my cutting station).  She is affectionately known around the house as "Speed Bump." At 15 she has her own agenda, which often involves sleeping in hallways. Earlier this afternoon, I headed down the hall with the newly clipped Marvel quilt and the cannister to hold the clips as I take them off. I didn't see her over the quilt, and made contact with a soft tummy. Thankfully after a bit of hopping to maintain balance we are both unscathed. That is the closest she has come to bringing me down to her level that she has achieved.