Friday, December 8, 2017

Fall into winter

Hi everyone!  Somehow we have gotten all the way to December 8 and I just noticed that it's December and the holidays are bearing down on us like a freight train.  How did this happen?  I currently have zero Christmas spirit and zero gifts and zero plan to get any.  I guess I really need to get my butt in gear!  Think making some Christmas cookies would help?

While we're waiting for the holidays, it is still officially fall until December 21, so how about we wrap up fall with something nice and cozy? This week I put the binding on a fall quilt, which means it's done!  Here it is all quilted and bound:

Isn't that pretty?  I made the top of this little quilt last year, during the blog hop that was a launch party for Bernie's online fabric shop.  It must have worked because her store is still going strong!  It was just quilted up a little bit ago and I finished the machine binding this week.

I call this little quilt Autumn Jewels because it's made from the jewel box pattern, which is a really common and looks great in a lot of different colors.  If you go to THIS POST you will find all the details about the fabrics as well as the measurements and a diagram so that you can make your own jewel box quilt.

Autumn Jewels was quilted by Diane Minkley, another friend who has her own quilting business and does awesome work.  I'm sure she'd love to quilt one up for you, too!  She is in Wisconsin but does do some mail order, and she has tons of experience and lots of designs.  This was quilted with an antique gold thread in a pattern called Loose Leaf, which is perfect for a fall quilt. 

I got lucky when I went to take photos of this quilt because the light was just right and the wind cooperated and it wasn't too cold outside.  This never happens to me, how about you?  Our weather is supposed to change very soon, though, and we may get some snow later this weekend. It is December, after all.  Good thing we have quilts around here to keep the chill away.

And that winds up fall for me.  This might be my last finish for 2017, but I have high hopes for one more completion before getting totally slammed by the holiday and end of year hubbub.  The end of the year really has snuck up on me, so keep your fingers crossed that everything gets finished, not just the quilting.

I hope everyone has a good weekend.  I am going to try very hard to get in the holiday spirit, which will be just in time because I have a Christmas party to go to on Sunday.  Then there are a ton of other things to do-- I'd better make a list and check it twice!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and crazymomquilts.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Constellations-- Finishing up!

Hi all, and welcome to the last step in our Constellations quilt!  Today we are finishing up with the borders and completing the quilt top.  Since we did most of the work already, this step goes quickly and you should be quilting this up in no time at all.  I used the same blue print that I used for the background and sashings for the final border, but you should feel free to use whatever borders you want for your quilt.

Here is my finished top, with the borders:

This quilt top finished at just about 57 by 68 inches, a nice couch size.  I made one significant change to the top from the way that I had first constructed the blocks.  If you look, you can see that I changed the corners on the Magic Cross blocks (the aqua blocks in the top row).  I had originally had a coral on the corners, but I decided that I wanted to make them look more like they're floating, so I replaced the coral corners with background blue ones. 

I also rearranged them a little bit, though I kept the block the same size so it would fit in the same space.  If there's anything in your top that you don't like, I really encourage you to fix it or rearrange it.  No sense finishing off something you don't like!

Back to the borders: you can see that I used three borders.  The first border was already integrated into the top and was made month by month.  The second is a 1-inch finished purple border, and the last is a 3-inch finished blue border from the same fabric as the backgrounds of the blocks.  I had planned to use a border of pieced squares instead of the purple, but I got one side done and really didn't like it.  It pulled too much attention away from the stars.  So I changed my mind and went with the purple, though any color would work. 

I know that everyone has probably put borders on a quilt before, but I want to walk you through how I do it.  This way gives you nice flat borders that are easy to quilt and lay flat in the finished product. The key to this is measuring, so grab your measuring tape and let's finish this quilt top.

First spread out your quilt center on a nice flat surface, like a floor, a bed or table large enough to hold the whole top without the edges hanging over, or a design wall.  Fold the top in half vertically to find the center, then mark the center with a pin or chalk mark at both the top edge and the bottom edge.  Open the top out again, then fold each of the edges to the center to divide the quilt into fourths.  Mark the fold with pins or chalk marks, again at both edges.

Now, smooth put the top so that it's nice and smooth with no wrinkles, and measure right down the center from the center pin at the top to the center pin at the bottom.  Don't worry if the measurement is not what you expect or is an odd fraction. This is your measurement for the side borders.

Decide on a color for your narrow border, then cut 1-1/2 inch strips and join them together to make a sufficient length for your narrow borders.  The number of pieces you need to join depends on whether you are using yardage or scraps and on the width of your fabric.  The piece I cut the purple border from was only 34 inches wide, so I needed 7 width-of-fabric cuts.  If you are using yardage, you'll likely need 5 or 6 1-1/2 inch by width-of-fabric cuts.

From the larger strip that you just created, cut two pieces the length of your center measurement.  For example, suppose that the length you measured was 59 inches.  Join your 1-1/2 inch strips and cut two lengths, each 59 inches.  Fold each strip the same way that you folded the quilt top to find the center and the quarters.  Mark the strips with pins or chalk.

Match the marks on your strips to the marks on the quilt top.  Pin and stitch.  **Important** If your edges don't match exactly, match the marks and stitch with the longer piece on the bottom.  This will generally provide enough ease for the border to fit exactly.  Repeat for the other side of the quilt top, matching the centers and quarters.

Follow the same steps to add the narrow border to the top and bottom of the quilt, measuring through the center of the quilt horizontally and matching the centers and quarter marks of the border strips and the edges of the quilt top.  Press well.  Your narrow border is done!

For the final border, follow the same steps, cutting your border strips 3-1/2 inches wide and remembering to match the centers and quarters.  Press well and admire your nice flat borders!  Your quilt top is done!

You know the next steps-- layer, quilt, and bind!  Depending on the size of your top, you will need about 4 yards for the backing.  I got this lovely star print for my backing:

This is actually a Christmas print from the 'Tis the Season line by Red Rooster Fabrics, and I got 4 yards from Bernie's shop.  I managed to save a half yard of the blue background print for the binding, and I am sending my quilt off to be custom quilted. 

That brings us to the end of this project!  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have and that your quilts turned out just as you wanted.  Thanks for coming along with me!  I'd love to see a picture if you're so inclined!

Look for an announcement about a new quilt along for 2018 (eep!) coming on the last Saturday of this month.  Angela of soscrappy and I have collaborated on a really cute quilt for next year, called Squared Away.  It will be lots of fun, so come back on the 30th for more information.  Hope to see you then!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and soscrappy for RSC17.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Joyful, joyful, joyful!

Hi everyone!  Today's post has massive doses of joy and happiness, along with lots of bright, happy colors.  There are at least three joyful things happening today, so come on in and let's talk!

Since this is a quilt blog, let's start with the quilt top:

I call this quilt Joyful, because really, what else could you call it?  Doesn't it just scream "joy?" This is the patternless medallion quilt that I've been working on for a few weeks.  I started with the orphan block in the center and then just built rounds around it, making it up as I went.  There are eleven rounds plus the center block.

Every bit of this quilt is scraps, including the leftover hunks of black and white fabrics.  If you saw the earlier posts you can tell that I made one significant change-- I changed the first "round" around the center block to white from a pale yellow.  This just makes it stand out a little better and coordinate with the rest of the rounds. 

It's hard to pick a "favorite" part of this quilt, but I really like how the round of flying geese turned out:

I made the geese and then just added a 1 inch finished strip to the bottom of each goose, then turned them in opposite directions.  I think it's a great effect.

This was very fun to work on since there was no pattern and therefore no rules.  It let me sew without thinking about it too much, which was great for the stress I've been under lately.  Maybe I should have called it "thankful" instead.  This happy quilt finished at 66 inches square, which is plenty big.  I had planned a piano key border, but really I just didn't want to cut up more fabric. 

The second joyful thing around here is a bit of family news-- on Wednesday, our son and daughter in law had twin babies, a boy and a girl! These are our second and third grandchildren and we are still dancing on air.  Mom, babies, and big brother are all doing great.  Dad is a little freaked out.  Of course the babies are completely adorable and I can't wait to see them in person. I can't post pictures on here, but if you hop over to Instagram (@academicquilter) you'll find the first picture of them together!

Which brings us to the third joyful thing in this post:

These two quilts are called Happy and Lucky and were made by my friend Preeti, who sent them off to me for my new grandchildren.  What a kind and generous gift! Thank you Preeti!  I know these will be used and loved, and probably be fought over by siblings, if my own siblings and I are any indication.

These two scrap quilts are wonderful, with lots of fun things to look at, like I-Spy quilts. And I have to tell you that the bindings are absolutely perfectly stitched and flat, way better than any binding I've done. Maybe I can get her to teach me how to do that.

So there we are-- joyful times three! I think I could burst from happiness!  I may come down by Monday, but I wouldn't count on it!  Hope you all have some serious joyfulness in your life, too, and that everyone has a great weekend.  I think I might shop for some baby girl clothes, how about you?

Sharing at crazymomquilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Oh, Scrap!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

String practice

Hi everyone!  Have you used up all of your turkey yet?  I finally froze the rest of it.  How we managed to have so much left over is beyond me, because we've been eating it for days.  At least the potatoes are all gone.  The pie went first, of course.  Who can resist pie?

We had relatives stay with us for six days over the holiday, and they totally wore me out.  I loved having them here, but I didn't have ten minutes to myself for the whole week!  For an introvert like me, that's a lot to handle.  Fortunately, I finally got to spend some time by myself in the sewing room, and I started in on working on the orphans and experiments quilt again.  I rearranged many things, so here's the current layout:

I wanted to make this quilt more rectangular, but I think this fails because it will be too long and skinny.  Right now this is about 45 inches wide, which I think means it will need some more rearranging.

I moved the biggest block to the center row and finished off that row, mainly because it's the tallest:

It's a little messy, but I think I like it.  If you look carefully, you can also see that I raided the leftover parts and pieces bin to fill in some of the odd spaces.  I didn't realize those chevrons would look so much like hearts, but they work there well enough, and I like the big reddish flying goose, too.  This row is 16 inches tall, which is tall, but I didn't want to take the big block apart.

I also used some really light strings to make corners to set the pink Bridal Bouquet block on point:

I cut these corners out of paper and then stitched the strings right on them, then trimmed and stitched them to the corners of the block.  It turned out great! 

See why this block was a failed experiment?

So I'll be back to rearranging this later this week and I'm really looking forward to getting this pieced together.  I'm not sure yet what to do between the rows or what to do for borders, so if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.  I have tons of strings, so I might just piece a bunch of them together and use those as sashing. What if I used the light strings for sashing?   That might be great!

Well, lots of decisions to be made!  Should be a fun distraction from all the things I still need to do in my non-sewing life.  Lots of deadlines still to be met!  Before I go, though, I have one word of warning for you-- don't buy these:

They are waaay too easy to eat and disappear super fast.  Ask me how I know!  (And tell me where I can get some more!)

Have a great week and I'll see you back here Friday for a joyful, happy finish. (Of a different quilt, not this one!)

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Oh Scrap!