Friday, July 31, 2015

Picking binding

   I had a question about how I chose fabrics to bind a quilt from Linda. And what was I going to use on the latest scrappy quilt.   A flood of things came to mind.  Along the way I have  learned a few things....mainly to follow my instinct at the end.     I know some quilters plan ahead and cut binding strips as they cut pieces and borders.  I don't always think about binding fabrics until I get to that stage.   It is just a matter of preference and what effect you want.

   So I will share my thought process and let you find your own way and inspiration.  Please remember, my quilts are for use....on the walls, on the sofa or bed....not for big exhibition quilt show.  If I was looking to win a big show, of course,  I would need to change some of my ways. Judges look for things like hand stitched bindings, and bindings cut on the bias.  Needless to say, mine usually are not.  I'm not doing tutorials or "how tos".....there are plenty of those elsewhere.  Just check Pinterest.

  I see the binding as the final frame.   Think of a picture frame  and how it finishes off the print or painting.
   So for a quilt.....It might look best to blend with the border fabric.  Most of my small wall hangings have a binding that blends with the outer border.  I want the center to be the focus.  In this case, I used the same fabric.  If I am short on fabric, I would just look for a very similar fabric to use.

  Small watercolor quilts that have a solid border also get a binding that matches.  There is so much going on in the center that a contrasting binding would be a distraction.  If the border is a print or batik, I would also match as close as possible to it.

    Other times,  a contrasting binding accents the colors or fabrics in the center piecing.  It might tend to lead the eye back to the center.  For this baby quilt, the Mom wanted pink and green I made sure there was a bight pink binding for the finish.  It's unexpected and fun in this case.  And I got to use up a lot of that bright pink.

   Another contrast binding to accent the color and pull all the blue/purple out to the edge.  There was quite of bit of blue and purple in the body of the quilt and the border strip and binding just made it all pop.

  Yet my favorite binding is mixed.....whatever strip is leftover from the center gets added to the binding.  I simply string them all together until I have enough length to go around.  You might note that I am guilty here of joining some fabrics bluntly rather than a diagonal join.  I probably was short on fabric and needed every inch.

  The diagonal join is the best method to use to distribute the bulk.   Here's a good tutorial on joining binding strips.  It is the technique I use.

     One more.......This quilt had a very busy border, so it was easy to use up any leftover floral strip for binding.  It was mixed floral strips  and yet blended into the border without distracting from it.
  The  question about the latest scrappy rail quilt.....its binding will be  an assortment of whatever leftovers I find.  It is just that kind of quilt.
  Maybe a few of my ideas will spark your creativity to experiment with your binding choice.  Match it, mix it up, or find a bold contrast.  As long as you like it, it is good.
Happy stitching.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Let's Book It / July

  Time to report in for the Let's Book It Project.  Needless to say, I got distracted this month and did not get finished on my quick and simple project.  I decided to make a table runner from the Minnesota Hot Dish pattern.  Easy enough.  Yet my brain fog set in, and  my math skills disappeared, which lead to being short on the required cut pieces.  This lead to the detour of developing a Project Cutting List.   Rough month, right?
   From a great little booklet on Minnesota Hot Dish can create 2 different looks from the placement of your fabrics.


  One version creates a pinwheel effect, and the second develops into a chain.  Guess you know which one I like.   I chose fabrics from the scrap pile in an assortment of blue, purple, and green tones.

  My runner of three large units got pieced--finally--and pinned.  Thankfully, finishing is not required for the Let's Book It project!  Sharon is just enabling us to begin something from our stash of patterns/books/want to dos.  It's a great way to experiment with some new ideas.

  Quilting on this one will happen in August. Did I really say August.....already?
I may not get much else done as there are a couple of family visits and a trip on the schedule.    A few small projects will probably get thrown in again.
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Revised Project Cutting List

Project Cutting List  Rev. 2

  I noticed a huge surge in stats yesterday that seemed to be coming from Facebook.   I thought over 1,000 views was a little bit odd for my blog!
Sure enough,  the Project Cutting List had been shared there.....which is fine.
  One of the comments suggested an added column to check off  when  completed.  I liked that, so a little revision was needed.
  If you are seeing this for the first time.....I put together this chart to help me when cutting a block with multiple sizes of pieces.  I had a minor mistake occur on a recent project and ended up short on two different size pieces for each block!  I print this on card stock and have plenty of space on the back for notes.  And I have a handy reference if I decide to repeat the block or project later.

 Here is Rev 2 of the Project Cutting List.      The original can still be printed from the original post.     

  More scraps turned in to snack mats and mug rugs.  The small ones were done with no binding.  I figured out how do the simple "birthing" without having to hand stitch the turning spot closed on the edge.  I used 2 pieces for the backing...leaving the opening for turning in the seam for the backing.  It was such an obvious thing to do, and yet all this time I missed it!
Keep learning new tricks.....happy stitching.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rail Fence flimsy surprise

  The leader/ender project that had been on the design wall gave me a little surprise.  Hanging on the design wall, it was colorful, and a little bit plain.  So I knew a border of some sort was required.

  Shopping in the stash closet----- I was looking for something to bring it all together.   I had enough of the cream rail fabric for the outer border...which would help float the design.  Yet I wanted a narrower inner border to frame it.   A large print just made it busier.  A small  print looked alike dots and was distracting to me.  Black was  under whelming.  Various blue fabrics were uninspiring.  My green collection is getting sparse.

   Then I went to the red section.

  I have had this mottled fabric for several years.....won as a door prize.  It's not really of those that are difficult to classify.  Some goldish orange that blends into a red purple a large piece it is ugly.   Yet, cut into strips  as an inner border, it not only stops the design, it enhances the gold and red fabrics in the mix.

   Once the borders were added, I was surprised to see how well it worked for this rail fence variation.  A little unexpected use of some ugly fabric adds a spark to a very simple pattern.
   Now it is on to the backing and quilting.  Maybe you will discover a surprise in your stash!

  Happy stitching.    

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Numbers and letters

  My Wonder Geek informed us that it was time to upgrade Windows.....and change pass words. Already?  Again?  What a pain!
  That point was brought to mind again when another rash of those empty emails with links hit me again this past week.   There are a few things you can do to help stop this stuff.  Even though I let the person know that they are spreading trojan/virus stuff,  they seem to just plain ignore it.   If it occurs 3  times.....I  now just block those senders from my list.

    First.....add a "fake" address to your email contacts.  A simple example  This is how it was explained to me:    With  the aaa at the beginning, this will be the first contact in your list.  If your email gets hacked, and the trouble maker sends out those emails, the first one comes back as deliverable and puts a squash on the rest.

   Second......change those something that is not a word.  I was so guilty of this until Wonder Geek gave me this tip.   Pick your favorite song, poem, Bible verse, quote, etc.  Use the first letter of each word adding uppercase, and numbers and symbols.   Example:   Row, row, row your boat could be expressed as  "rX3yB-gdtS"  or  as  "3RurB!Gdts" .    Simple combinations that make sense to you, are the hardest ones to crack.....and I still write them down in  a notebook in pencil.    The password should be at least 8 characters.....and 10 is better.
  We live in a digital world, so expect increase attacks.  Too bad that rotary cutters, scissors and pins won't stop them.  I am prepared on that front.  And don't get me started on those lousy robo sales calls......I now tell them to contact homeland security at 202.555.1212 for permission!  It hasn't helped but I get a giggle out of it.  Stay safe online and happy stitching.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday finds...July

I have been slack  on posting Friday Finds.....let's say I am in the summer doldrums.   This week is a little bit different.  It's about paying it forward and giving back to your community.

Featured Fabric
I am sure you know about the Million Pillowcase Challenge.  There are great tutorials all over. .... the taco style pillowcase with flange, the simple pillowcase,  or make up your own style.  Most local quilt shops are participating to donate pillowcases to children in hospitals across the nation.  Make a pillowcase, help a child, then make a few for gifts and of course, one to keep!

   Now there is Skirting the make a simple skirt to donate to a girl in foster care for her first day of school.  My local quilt shop is participating and supporting this project.   I found a simple one seam pattern here to make a skirt  with information on all sizes.  Check with your local shop for details.

  My sewing life began when I was young....making clothes for school.  Later, I made clothes for my daughter, until she became the sewing whiz and designer.   So I think I can whip  up a simple skirt or two for this.  Actually, it sounds like fun and provides a way to use up some of the neglected stash elements.   I may not be able to build a house, or do home repairs for those in need, as my talents are located in the sewing room.  It's all about that.....using your talent and paying it forward.

  As always....follow the links rather than pinning from here.  Happy stitching.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scrappy design wall

   Cutting and piecing small projects has filled the design wall.....a watercolor banner, large table runner from the Hot Dish pattern, a table runner using the Piano Keys pattern, and a scrappy rail fence using the 2+4 rail block variation.

  The Hot Dish runner is large it is ready to be pinned and quilted.  The Piano Keys runner is going to get a border this time around before it gets finished.

  The watercolor banner needs an applique....possibly the butterfly, if I can find the fabric I want to use.  Then a border is needed too.

  I went ahead and assembled the blocks I had for the rail fence.  It is a small lap throw size right now, only about 36" by 48", so a border is needed to finish it up.

   A lot of leader/ender piecing was accomplished as I put all of this together this week.  I think I can actually begin to put together a few rows on the vintage bricks, just to see how it looks.

   Along the way, I pulled out a scrap bin of strips to look for some pieces for binding.  I found binding and some leftover blocks.   These may find their way into some mug rugs. thing leads to another....and I have miles of thread to go before I stop.
   Sir Old Man stopped in and asked what all of this is for.  The gift pile, and one for a charity auction, I replied.   I do believe he thought I was preparing to open a shop or at least put things up for sale!  That is more production that I have in me, I think.  I really think I am just making more scraps.......happy stitching.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Project Cutting List

    My week started well.  I felt like I got things accomplished.  I even managed to fit in time to put new liners in all the kitchen was time for that spongy liner stuff to go.  And I was cutting fabric for 3 table runners and throwing in pieces to the basket for the new leader/ender project.
   By Thursday I was ready to begin some piecing.  By Friday afternoon, I was thinking my brain went on vacation somewhere without me!  And this morning I was convinced of it.
   This is the culprit!  I picked up this booklet at quilt guild from the donations table.  a whole booklet of ideas using the Minnesota Hot Dish the quilt I did last year.    This handy little booklet is from their Shop Hop a few years ago....even recipes included.  I decided to switch to a table runner using this pattern for my Let's Book It project this month.
   So somewhere along the yellow brick road of cutting, those evil winged monkeys descended and fogged up my brain.  Or is it that I was turned into the scarecrow?  Anyway, I was piecing along quite nicely, and I did not have enough sections cut for the print on the second round.  And then, I did not have enough background cut for the fourth did I do this?  All this stopping to cut and piece new sections was slowing me down and making me crazy.

Project Cutting List

    I realized I had only cut enough pieces for eight blocks on some sections and 10 on others.....and I wanted 12.   Looking at the notes and marks I made in the book, I could tell that I had really jumbled things up.  Since my vision,  concentration, and general acuity is  really the culprit, I decided a little help is required.   I re-vamped my project cutting card  for future projects and hopefully will avoid more mistakes / delays!   I printed up 3 or 4 of these on card stock to have on hand.  Working from a  small cutting list is easier for me than sorting through a  list in small print  in a book.

   I am sharing this here....just in case you need it....and so I can always find it.    Now to finish up those few blocks.
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A leader/ender project

 I know I said I would go for the tumbler project.....but after cutting a few of them, I knew it was a mistake.  I was quickly losing interest.  I will sew up the few I cut and make a snack mat and say done.   I figure it is better to  stop than end up with a permanent UFO.

  I ran across this saved magazine pattern from McCall's Quilting 2003, last week.  It is made with a majority of vintage fabrics and has a vertical setting of bricks.   Vintage fabric from the 80s and 90s old enough to be vintage?   Vertical setting......vertical setting is different and interesting.

I am not sure if it is the simplicity of the design or the randomness of the fabrics, but it sure is pleasing to my eye.   This is just  the thing for a leader ender project.  I adjusted the size to fit my scrap here is my cutting "recipe".       Fabric bricks 2" by 3 1/2"
      Neutral (muslin/tonal)  1 1/2" by 2"  for between the bricks
      Neutral vertical setting strip is 1 1/2" by what ever length it ends up!
Note---- the original version used 1 1/2" by 3 1/4" bricks and 1  1/4" for the mortar.

This pattern  would even make cute table runners.....or in holiday/seasonal get the idea.  
   It reminds me of the Charming Bricks from last year.    I love this little wall hanging.

I know  I won't make a huge dent in the scrap bin......but I keep trying!  Since I am still cutting several projects, I can cut some ends off and toss in the box for this.  
  With the heat --96 degrees tomorrow--returning for the rest of the week, I know I will be staying inside .   Happy stitching.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Catching the Light

    When my daughter was growing up, catching fire flies on  warm  nights was the mark of summer.   Their glow was fascinating...until she realized she had to release them.
   Isn't that the way it is.....I would love to have a jar of sunlight to open on cold or dreary days.  Instead I have a wall hanging that captures the light.

   This Let's Book It project was begun in is here.   I explain the process and get most of the sewing done in June, and then I get side-tacked and it sat for about a month.

  Then it was time to move on....add the border, do some simple quilting and finish it up.

 A small bargello wall hanging done in floral fabrics.....part of my Year of Florals.   This is a blended colorwash based on the pattern in Colorwash Bargello.

   Catching the Light

  Ever notice that the scrap bin grows with every finish?   The binding ends, and trimmed backing pieces really seem to stack up.  No wonder I stay so far behind!    I am cutting multiple projects  right now....mostly small ones.  It is time for a new blade in the rotary cutter, and both machines need a good cleaning and new needles.  Just a reminder.....happy stitching.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Saving plans

   There's a Piggy Bank saving challenge starting at Val's Quilting Studio.     The idea is to save, save, save for a year and then have $$$ for quilt spending.  Ok, I can do that .  Just for me.....I usually pass my change on to Sir Old Man  for his coin rolls.  No is going into my jar/savings plan.  I always have extra empty candle jars around, so  a few swipes with a paint marker and it is now designated as a money jar.

 Right now, I can't even buy a cup of coffee with my coins.....but I am aiming for enough to buy a whole bolt of backing fabric.  I never have enough backing it seems.
Linking to Val's linky.....happy stitching.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lots of small things

  No great finds this week.....blogland seems to in the middle of summer vapors, and things are slow.  If you discover any good finds, let me know and I will share them next week.

I have been working on small things...snack mats and mug rugs all week.  I worked with everything from strings to hunks, threw in some appliques and leftovers.  These are practical ones, not necessarily beauties.

 I did a pair using this fabric for Remy.   While he was helping his Dad sort through boxes of stored items, he discovered "treasures"......a bag of fishing lures that were my Dad's.  So when I had 2 hunks of this fabric left from pillowcases, I knew exactly what to do with it......a couple of snack mats for him.  He will drive his dad crazy talking about the ones on this!

   The diagonal strings go together quickly but ended up a little plain.  So I did some raw edge appliques using simple plume shapes.

  Moving things around, I ran across one more embroidered hankie.  I love turning  these into mug rugs for gifts....they are so delicate.

  One more......leftover floral band, another bit of raw edge applique and a couple of chunks for balance.  In all I finished 10  items, for a nice start to gifts for later this year.

   While I was fresh this morning, I machine quilted the floral bargello.   I had planned to finish it up yesterday after my dental check up.  Well, that was a snake in the grass.  I have a cracked crown  that must be replaced....I will spare notating the details.  Let's just say I had a splitting headache the rest of the day.  And there won't be any fabric purchases for a while.    Not that I need any, mind you.  It's more the inspiration from new fabric that I enjoy and want.  I  will just use this time to clear out and use up some of my 20 year old stash.   But then I have said that before.....enjoy the weekend, stay cool, and happy stitching.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

And now, we return to regular programming.....

  I remember when breaking news would disrupt a TV program, and then the announcer would say, "We return you to regular programming."  Today, of course, there is that annoying scroll across the bottom or top of the screen.  No breaks in the show, and you get extra info from around the globe.  Sometimes we just need to step back and take a break before returning to regular programming.

   My regular programming in the sewing room is to begin the next Let's Book It project.  From one of my favorite books....Relax and Quilt, is a Birds in the Air block.   The scrap stash yielded a stack of already cut 5" squares for the large unit, and 3" squares for the smaller unit.

 I decided to experiment with the technique of trimming to size before pressing the triangles open.   And I am using a regular square ruler with drawn lines---using a dry erase marker.  The drawn line is placed on the sewn seam line rather than the edge of the fabric.  Trim and press open.....the unit is square! This tip is really a time saver.   Update:   Here's the link for the tutorial on this here. 
   I have seen several different layouts for these expect a variation from the regular and symmetrical version.

  In between marking, sewing and pressing, I am playing around with mug rugs, and snack mats.  I had way too many batting scraps piling up and it was time to piece them together, so I spent one afternoon just doing that.  So far I have about 6 mats in various stages.....more on that later as I progress.

   I see where Bonnie Hunter is starting a tumbler quilt along......I have never been interested in doing one in the past.  Yet, for some reason, I am thinking it might be a good leader/ender project to have by the machine.    Lol.....I must be crazy to be saying this......I would need a new ruler for the tumblers.  Quick someone talk me out of this!

  Whatever is on your program schedule.....enjoy.  Happy stitching.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Comparing Carolina Chain quilts

Carolina Chain of 2"  strips begun in May
  For my Year of Floral quilts, I am really exploring some of my favorite patterns focusing on how they look done in floral fabrics.  There is always the blending effect using florals, and attention to the light and dark contrast of values.  Sometimes the busy print of the florals obscure and disguise the pattern, and sometimes the floral fabrics simmer in radiance due to the contrasts.

   I began the Carolina Chain blocks in May using 2" strips and batiks for the dark and light accent squares through the center.  The block is from Bonnie Hunter column, Addicted to Scraps, from 2010.   It's a simple block....easy to figure out.

   On the design wall, it looked like this.  Interesting chain design develops as it grows.

What I was not prepared for was the radiance that happened by adding the borders.  Leftover pieces were joined into long strips for the border, which were banded with the dark batik.  The photo does not capture the glow from the contrast.  

  I knew the quilting would not show well because of the busy prints.....but crazy for feathers I am.  I stitched bands of feather sprays across on the diagonal....not dense, but enough to satisfy me.  

 Field of Blooms
36" by 45"

  For comparison:  
  The larger version done earlier this year in the same pattern was made using 2 1/2" strips of scraps/leftovers.   Same pattern, two sizes, two different fabric palettes gives you 2 distinct quilt personalities.   I love seeing this happen.

Now I think I have gotten this pattern out of my system and I'm ready to move on.  We are looking at a lot of liquid stuff--rain--instead of sunshine this weekend.  Cookout will be indoors.....enjoy your weekend.
Happy stitching.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ending June with July plans

  Jumping Jupiter....the year is half  gone!  Or is that there's still 6 months left in this year?  Anyway,  June was a small month for finishing, with headway made on two projects for next month.

Finishes for June.....project folder from leftover bargello,  table top strings with flowers, and the floral quilt, Summer Popourri.

Progress made on two projects that should be finished in July.....if I don't get side-tracked.
   Both fall into my Year of Floral quilts category.  Besides a couple of watercolor wall hangings, I have 3 large floral quilts done this year.....Where My Feet May Fall---log cabin variation block;  Metamorphosis----sashed string qult;  Summer Potpourri----just finished using the Faux Braid block.  The  floral Carolina Chain will be a small lap quilt, and the floral bargello will be a wall hanging.

 The smaller floral quilt of Carolina Chain blocks  is pieced and now  quilted.   Binding and label are ready to go on.  So I know I can get this done in July.

    The Let's Book It bargello project is still on the design wall, but I have decided on the border.  This will be my main focus next week.....get border on, and prep for the quilting.

   I have my eye on the next Let's book It project......only I will make a smaller version of what I picked out.  Smaller versions seem to satisfy me right could be the heat and crazy weather  that are affecting my concentration on projects.   Rather than fight a big quilt project, I am taking the simpler path of smaller  lap quilts.  And it is time to start thinking about Christmas gifts.....small is good!  Happy stitching.   
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