Thursday, October 8, 2020

Fragile

It's been 3 years since Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic released her Fragile collection, and to this day it remains one of my favorite collections ever. I have made quite a few quilts with it, including Critical Sunshine and Paradox. And, it was because of Paradox that I have this new quilt.

Paradox was a quilt full of large flying geese made in the traditional way, and that meant I had a lot of leftover half-square triangles. I couldn't throw them away, so I decided to try to arrange them to see if I could come up with anything interesting. Happily, I did manage to arrange them in a manner that I found very pleasing, and after tacking on a wide border to fill it out a bit, I had in my hands a very nice throw-sized quilt.

I held onto this quilt top for about 2 years because I was just too in love with it to quilt it. (That statement made a lot of sense in my head.) But, I decided it's finally time. After some sketching, I decided on a design that both emphasizes the geometric lines of Fragile, as well as the theme of the fabric ... beauty in nature.

I always have a bit of trouble deciding what to do with borders, because I don't really like to treat borders like traditional borders. Instead, I prefer to think of it as a negative space. So I extended some of the quilting designs from the blocks out to the borders. I further divided the space and then filled the rest in with a mix of designs that reflect nature, such as leaves, feathery swirls, and pebbles.

The blocks had quite a bit of print on them, so I kept the quilting more minimal with dot-to-dot designs and straight lines.

After all this time, I'm finally done with Fragile, and I couldn't be happier with it. It really is everything I wanted it to be, and the best part is I didn't use up any of my precious hoard of Fragile fabrics to make this quilt, since it's made from leftovers!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pick-Up Sticks

Pick-Up Sticks is such a fun and unusual quilt for me. The original pattern is called On the Ball by Brigitte Heitland (of Zen Chic). I really liked the pattern, but it was made with the splice and insert technique which will be incredibly difficult on this scale. So instead, I made it with the applique technique. Details on how I made this top is here.

When it comes to quilting it, I decided to keep this one simple in concept. I extended each "stick" into the background space, and I love the way it divides up the background.

I filled all the areas in between with my favorite filler: elongated elegant swirls.

I filled the center areas with pebbles, and left all the sticks unquilted so they would rise to the top of the quilt.

This quilt was easy even if it was time consuming. I absolutely love it, but I also cannot use this as a lap quilt because between the applique and the pounds of thread I added on, it's just too heavy! But I think it'd make a fabulous wall hanging ...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Solstice ~ Ready to Quilt

Late last year after I finished the Stargazer Block-of-the-Month run by Rebecca Bryan, I said I wasn't going to do another one. Stargazer was a lot of work, and I was still feeling tired from it.

A few months later, when Rebecca revealed the 2020 Block-of-the-Month, Solstice, I decided that yes, I was going to do another one. Rebecca's quilts are never easy, but they're super interesting and unique. I certainly don't have another quilt like Solstice in my collection.

After 8 months of block making, I finally got ready to assemble Solstice.

Solstice wasn't too difficult to put together as it consists mostly of 60 degree triangles assembled in rows. There are no bias edges on the outside which is good news for me. However, some of the seams are very, very thick and I found that the most challenging part. The end result definitely has a wow factor! I would never have thought to use these colors, but they work so beautifully together.

Solstice is the first block-of-the-month I finished this year, and I couldn't be more pleased with it. One down, 3 more to go!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Velodrome

I was in the mood for a quick and easy finish this week so I pulled out a quilt top I finished quite awhile ago. The original pattern is Mod Ovals by Malka Dubrawsky, but I made my blocks bigger. The fabrics used in this quilt are all from Libs Elliott's Tattooed North line, a sparkly line of neutrals with some golds mixed in. I simply love Libs Elliott's fabrics, and I consider her the rock star of the quilting world.

Even though I meant for this quilt to be quick and easy, I still wanted to put some effort into the quilting to make it special.

I quilted each block with a mixture of straight lines, ribbon candies, and dot-to-dot designs. I love how the secondary designs show up in these types of quilts.

There are 3 special blocks in this quilt where the fabric is gold instead of the neutral, so I decided to quilt them a little differently.

I named this quilt Velodrome because the individual blocks really remind me of cycling velodromes. I'm super happy with the fabrics and the graphic and urban look of this quilt, and it looks so different from Malka's original quilt that I marvel at just how much a quilt can change its vibe just by using different fabrics.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

X & +

There's no question that Brigitte Heitland from Zen Chic is my favorite fabric designer. I have loved most of her collections, to the point of collecting them obsessively, but I was a little disappointed when Day in Paris first came out. But when I actually saw it in person, it began to grow on me, and when I saw X & + made with Day in Paris, I fell madly in love with it.

I really enjoyed working on this quilt because of the gorgeous fabrics, and I knew the quilting just had two jobs: play up the huge borders and show off the fabrics on the blocks.

This quilt was rather easy to design quilting for as I didn't have a story in mind (unlike Rainbow Road), so I just wanted to play up the design of the quilt. I created some channels in the borders that extend the block design, and filled them with a combination of swirls and more linear designs.

I quilted each block with a few different designs, including serpentine lines, ribbon candies, straight line echoes, and dot-to-dot designs.

This quilt is pretty big at 83" x 83", and I had such a great time working on it. The colors are perfect and I'm really happy with how the quilting turned out. I hadn't quilted a swirl or ribbon candy in several months, and I missed it!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Quilting Tutorial: Steampunk Gears

When I quilted Rainbow Road, I had the idea of a Matrix-style steampunk city, so I tried to do a steampunk design of gears and teeth. I wasn't sure how it'd turn out, but I really liked the result. I've received requests for a tutorial on how to quilt this, so I'm trying my hand at a how-to guide.

I suggest practicing drawing this before trying it on a quilting machine. This design is actually just a variation on swirls, so it'd be helpful if you already knew how to quilt swirls. That being said, let's get started.

First, this design does need to be boxed into a space. Then, from a corner, we start with a traditional swirl. Swirl to the center and come back out. It's very important to close the swirl with another echo outside of it.
Now, we add some teeth.
After we make some teeth, we close it with another echo, this time the echo should touch the edge of the teeth.
After this comes the most important echo. After this you can quilt as many echoes on top of it as you wish, but there must be at least one extra besides the one that touches the teeth or the effect will be lost.
From that point on, quilt more gears. Once in awhile, I like to throw in one with a different shape, a square shaped gear teeth. It's harder to quilt than the triangle teeth for me, so I throw it in only once in awhile for a change of pace.
And so on and so forth.
I really like how this design looks on certain types of quilts, and I hope this tutorial was helpful!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Season of Gifts

At first, I just wanted to take a little break from blogging. Just a few weeks. But then, once I got off the schedule, it became easier and easier to just let it keep slipping. And before I knew it ... a few months slipped by. I've been spending less time quilting in the past few months and more time on other endeavors, but I managed to finish a few gift quilts finally.

The first one is a quilt and pillow set for my daughter. She is going through a massive unicorn phase, so I knew she'd love this panel set by Sarah Watts from her Crescent collection. It was a rather large quilt so it took awhile, but I did a simple allover paisley design.

Next up is another large panel I quilted for my mother. When she requested a quilt, she wanted two things: black / white and no piecing. I found a gorgeous Aztec inspired panel on Honest Fabric which was then printed on demand, and I quilted this with straight lines. I won't lie ... this was a really hard quilt because without piecing and seam lines to follow, it is really hard to keep the lines straight across the quilt. Overall I still think it looks nice and I sure hope my mom likes it!

After that is another challenging quilt, but challenging for a completely different reason. My mother-in-law had given me a very old quilt that her mother had pieced years ago, and it was by far one of the most challenging tops I'd ever wrestled with. The whole thing was wavy, puckery, and the fabrics were stretched badly in areas. I almost gave up on it and wanted to send it to someone else to finish it, but in the end powered through. I used a loopy design that was at least very quick to do, though I could not avoid quilting a lot of tucks into it. I probably should have sent it to someone else who had a better idea of how to handle tops like these, but I knew it'd mean more if I finished it myself. At the end of the day, I can only hope she's happy with it.

Finally, piggybacked onto the vintage quilt, I finished a table runner for my sister-in-law as a housewarming present. Never mind that she moved into that house several years ago! She picked the fabric and the pattern, and I really enjoyed making this modern and beautiful table runner. The pattern is called Calamity Crosses by Jenifer Dick. I quilted this with straight lines only in an improv kind of way, and I really like how it turned out.

With these gift quilts off my plate and off my mind, I will now have to decide which of my own quilt tops to quilt next. It's not an easy decision because I have ... 93 of them. (There, I said it!)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rainbow Road

Rainbow Road, pattern (originally called Prism) and fabric by Alison Glass, is actually a very old quilt top lying in my stash. I've wanted to quilt it for a long time, but I kept putting it off because it is the scariest type of quilt to deal with: the negative space quilt. Negative space quilts offer infinite potential, and also infinite chances to not reach that potential.

As far back as a few years ago, I already had a story and a plan for this quilt. I imagined a futuristic steampunk city with a lot of paths criss-crossing in the air, and at the top of it all was a rainbow road, a (somewhat unreachable) holy grail for the citizens of the city.

To give the quilt a feeling of depth, I quilted a lot of roads that criss-cross in the air, representing a top-down view of the city.

Since the theme is inspired by steampunk, on the background areas between the paths I quilted a lot of gear type motifs. Whether or not it actually invoked a feeling of steampunk, I cannot say, but I love the look!

The rainbow road itself is quilted with a dot-to-dot design that I sort of made up as I went along. I really like how it allows the beautiful rainbow fabrics to pop up.

Rainbow Road isn't my first paths-in-the-air quilt, as I previously quilted Skyways with a similar idea. But Skyways represents a happy futuristic city set in the clouds with flowers and greenery beneath, while Rainbow Road is definitely grittier.

I love the front of this quilt, but I might love the back even more. This is truly a double-sided quilt, and you can really see the details on the back.

I'm so very happy with this quilt because of the story and how it came out pretty much as I envisioned it. It was almost 3 years in the planning, but the end result is so very special to me!

***

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Powered by Quilting, and Meadow Mist Designs.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Atmosphere Quilt Along

I really wasn't looking for a new quilt along. I already had several block-of-the-months to keep me busy, not to mention a slew of other projects I had queued up. But when the Atmosphere quilt along was announced, well, how could I resist?

I really wasn't looking to buy a kit. I had bins full of scraps, and shelves full of fat quarters. But when the lovely bundle of 34 Kona fabrics came wafting under my nose, well, how could I resist?

So I fell headlong into the Atmosphere quilt along. Cutting and organizing the fabric was arguably the toughest part!

The blocks are simple and straightforward, just some flying geese and half-square triangles combined with squares and rectangles. But the beautiful array of colors made it so exciting to work with.

This quilt was a joy to put together. All that rainbow goodness was making me super happy. I guess color really acts as a pick-me-up.

I haven't done a rainbow quilt top for quite awhile, and I love this! The quilt pattern also comes with a minimalistic version that I might have to do sometime as well.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

For Want of a Magnet (My Favorite Longarm Tools)

I prepared this blog post several years ago but then totally forgot about it. Due to our season of quarantine and having two little kids stuck at home, I've been very slow on projects and have nothing to show. I thought it'd be a good time to post this instead! Despite this post being old and the links probably not all working, in a way this post is more valid than ever because I've been using these tools for the last few years to know they're holding up well.

***

I've been quilting on a longarm for less than a year, which doesn't make me an expert, but I feel it's a respectable amount of time for me to finally share my favorite longarm tools. A lot of these are total game-changers for me!

Disclaimer: I provided some links to the sites that sell some of this stuff, but I have no affiliation with any of these parties and these links are not affiliate links.

Stapler

But then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll, I'll, I'll set the building on fire ...

Milton - Office Space

Before I got a longarm, I've researched lots of methods about loading quilts quickly and with as much control as possible. While there are methods I haven't tried, when I found one I liked I stuck with it. And that's staples.

I first saw this method demonstrated by Mandy Lyons, and I admit, I was initially skeptical. But I was so tired of pinning that I decided to invest in a stapler and give it a shot. Immediately, I loved it! It's much quicker than pinning, I have as much control as pins, and I never prick myself or risk bleeding over the quilt.

Spray Bottle

I picked up this tip from Beth of Cooking Up Quilts. While stapling made actually loading a quilt easier, I still had to iron the backing and I haaaated that. But after reading Beth's tip about using a spray bottle to de-wrinkle as I load, I was so tempted that I bought a spray bottle immediately. And it has worked great!

I've loaded a few quilts now with Beth's tip about using the spray bottle, and it was wonderful. I can skip that pesky ironing of the backing stage entirely now. It has made loading so much more pleasant!

Handi Grip

What's just slightly less annoying than a ruler that slides in rotary cutting? A ruler that slides in longarm quilting. I always have to pick those stitches out, and it's not fun. I use quite a bit of rulers in my quilting, so this handy (no pun intended) little Handi Grip tape has really come in handy. It is like a sticky tape on the back of the ruler that pretty much prevents slippage. I have some on the back of each of my rulers.

Needle Alignment Magnet

And I save the best for the last. I hated changing needles on the longarm because I'm never completely sure the needle is pointed toward the right position. In fact, several times when I was sure it was correct, I realized that when I tighten the screw, it likes to shift just a tad. And that tad seems to make quite a difference in how happy my quilting experience is!

Finally I figured somebody has to have solved this problem. I looked for quite awhile before I found these. I couldn't believe they're not more widely available! With this little magnet, now I can see whether my needle is pointed in the exact right position I need it to, and I can easily calibrate to compensate for the shift that usually happens when I tighten the screw. I love it, and changing a needle is no longer guesswork!

***

So these are some of my favorite, not-as-widely-known tools. What's yours?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Unintended ~ A Mini Haphazard

If there's one part of the quilting process that I hate more than anything ... it's loading a quilt onto the longarm. After quilting Modern X, I realized since Modern X isn't a very big quilt, I have a little bit of room to put another quilt on there! That's what I call a freebie, since I didn't have to load it.

The only quilt top I have that actually fits is my mini Haphazard quilt that I made late last year. I named this quilt Unintended because it truly was unintended. The fabric came out of my Rock Star quilt, because I made a mistake reading the instructions and ended up cutting twice as much of the black and white fabric as I needed. The fabric was too special for me to put aside, so I made them into half-square triangles and then loaded up my Haphazard generator to get a nice 36" x 36" arrangement.

For the first time ever, I decided to try matchstick quilting on my longarm. Nancy from Grace and Peace Quilting had previously given me some advice for how to do it, and I'm very grateful, because otherwise I would have totally messed it up! Just like free-motion is not as hard as it looks, matchstick quilting is not as easy as it looks.

Matchstick quilting isn't particularly exciting to do, but there's a sort of zen-like calm to it. I think it turned out really well, and I'm very happy with it. It is so striking, and the quilting adds such a lovely texture. I'm not sure yet where it will go, but I think it will look great hanging up in my quilting room!

But after making this quilt, I realize that I really want another black and white Haphazard quilt, except throw-sized. I guess I'll have to do that one soon.

***

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Powered by Quilting, and Meadow Mist Designs.

Modern X

I'm asked a lot what I do with my finished quilts. The truth is ... not much. I've given a few away to family and friends, and I usually have one draping on the couch that I snuggle under (and which I swap out once every few months). I don't even sleep under my own quilts! I know, I know ... but I don't have much of a say in that.

So I'm excited that this new quilt I've just finished, I do have a use for! It is a wallhanging that is going to go in our side entrance hallway.

This pattern is called Modern X by Christa Watson, it is a simple half-square triangle quilt, but made interesting in the fabric choice and fabric placement. That pop of wasabi is just so beautiful!

Since it's a super modern wallhanging, I kept the quilting very, very simple with all straight lines that basically follow the angles of the triangles. In other words, I used the same design that was on the cover of the pattern. But I didn't feel a need to improve on what's already perfect.

I absolutely love this, and I'm so excited to see it hanging in my hallway! But that's not enough ... now I'm thinking I want to make a throw-sized version of this quilt. It'll be quick and satisfying, exactly what we need in times like this.

***

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Powered by Quilting, and Meadow Mist Designs.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Moon Dance ~ Ready to Quilt

All quilts are special. But some quilts are more special than others.

I still remember the first time I saw Moon Dance by Sew Kind of Wonderful. It was during QuiltCon 2018 in the booth of You + Me for Hoffman Fabrics. I stared at it for a good while, completely in awe.

When the pattern was released a few months later, I bought it immediately. But I sat on it for 2 years. I wanted to make sure that I had the right fabric, the right skills, was in the right mood, everything. As usual, fabric is where I tend to mess up the most, and have the most amount of quilter's regret for. I decided to use Observatory by Alison Glass, one of my favorite collections ever.

Cutting and stacking took a long, long time ...

Sew Kind of Wonderful is known for their rulers and their patterns, but my favorite thing about them is that their patterns include a lot of leeway. I consider it curved piecing for people who can't do curved piecing (like me). When the blocks come out, they look pretty awful and skewed. But once I do the trim-down, they actually look pretty good!

The moment of truth comes when I finally place some of the blocks on the design wall and decide whether I like it or not. Usually by this point, even if I don't love it, I'll still finish it. However, I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that I really, really love this fabric with this pattern! The fabrics truly seems to glow.

Assembling was a bit painful but I got through it by doing it in small chunks. And anyway, the end result is worth it. I'm so in love with this quilt top! If I finish it this year (which is not likely given how much I need to emotionally detach myself from it), it has a good chance of being my favorite finish of the year.

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