Archives

Designing a Quilt Back

After completing the quilt top for my big project of 2017, I surveyed the remaining fabric and thought it might be really nice if I could take the remnants and design something for the back. I knew I did not have enough for the entire back but I should be able to do something creative before shopping for additional supplies.

I turned towards my EQ7 quilt design software and reviewed my options under the various libraries. Here, I discovered a quilt layout section that included an option for medallion quilts. I selected a churn dash design  and proceeded to play with fabric placement from my leftover stash. There was enough of the floral print to use as one 35 inch square with fabric to spare for the corners.

Unfortunately, no matter how I arranged the remaining fabrics, I did not have enough to complete the process. If I used the brown in the corners, I did not have enough for the border.  Figuring I would use the brown only in the border, I tried putting the pink or the blue in the corners in place of the brown, but that did not leave me enough for the inside strips of those colors. In addition, I did not have enough of the remaining material to make the binding.

As it happened to be April and the Maine quilt shop hop was in progress, my daughter and I decided it would be necessary to go on a road trip in search of border fabric. The brown would be hard to match, so I decided that maybe I could find a green that might compliment the green from the front of the quilt. This would not be a problem since the two greens would be on opposite sides of the quilt. We visited three quilt stores that day and I successfully found a perfect color at one store and a suitable fabric for binding at another shop.

The next day I finished the backing but now I had no place large enough to take a decent photograph. One of the advantages of taking on large projects in the winter is that the snow serves as a nice back drop for these types of photos. While crocuses were in full bloom, coltsfoot flowers were peeking through the earth and the yards in the rest of our neighborhood were devoid of snow during this second weekend of April, our property still had plenty to spare. It was enough for me to get my picture.

The assembly was now done and ready for quilting. I think this one will be the first quilt I send out to a professional longarm quilter. Fortunately, my daughter fits the bill for that.

Design to Construction

After spending time playing around with my EQ7 quilt design software and creating test blocks to determine the accuracy of the software’s cutting measurements, it was time to move on to the construction phase of this year’s big quilt project. I still was uncertain about the amount of fabric required for the border, but I figured I would construct the bulk of the quilt top before tackling the border problem.

I’m not sure if it was the thrill of the quilt design package or the sudden awareness of accurate measurements but I found that I proceeded with extra caution during the construction of the blocks. I needed four different blocks to create this quilt and with each block, I took additional time with measuring before and after cutting. I have found that the more pieces needed to construct a block, the greater the chances of ending up with the finished block being the wrong size, so when I approached the nine patch block, I measured and trimmed during each part of the assembly process. Finally, the blocks were assembled. Miracle of miracles, they all measured within acceptable tolerance of 11.5 inches. Hurrah!

When I laid out the blocks to prepare for the final assembly, I found that something just didn’t feel right about the design. Something seemed a little disjointed with the flow of the pattern. I studied the quilt for a minute before rotating the corner pieces so that the blue fabric made a continuous circular path around the outer edge of my creation. This one little change made the whole thing more aesthetically pleasing. Now it was time for the final assembly.

Once the rows were constructed, I proceeded on to the inner borders. Everything was going according to plan. It was now time to figure out the outer border. I measured the green fabric once more and decided to lower that outer edge by an inch to a final border of 5.5 inches. After cutting the necessary strips to construct the border, I was left with two one inch strips of green fabric. Very close, but still enough to complete the quilt top.

After completing the top, I studied the final product once more. I must say I was very pleased with the results. I surveyed the fabric left over from the construction and decided I would try to do something with the remaining pink, brown, blue and floral pieces for the backing. But that must wait for another posting.

A New Toy

It was that time of year again, when it was time to plan my next big quilt project. With the weekend temperatures in the single digits and very windy, no one was really motivated to set out on a hiking adventure. There was also the fact that a mid-March snowstorm was raging outside with an expected 12 to 18 inches of snow predicted. Of course the storm left us with the hope that we would be able to get in a final snowshoe event after the storm was over, but until the weather improved, it was best to work on a new quilt. This time around, I had a new toy to help me through the design phase.

Watching my attempts at drawing out my ideas on graph paper before ditching that and going on to use a combination of Microsoft Word, Excel and Paint, my husband had an inspiration for my birthday. Unfortunately, it lacked the element of surprise when the postman handed me, not the usual brown Amazon package but a cellophane wrapped box that someone had pulled off the shelf and slapped on a mailing label. I knew that box was my present for it had EQ7 Quilt Design Software printed on it. I texted a thank you to my spouse and promised that I would not tear of the cellophane until he came home.

Once the software was installed, I started playing with designs immediately (after all, every engineer knows that you play with the software first, then read the directions). In addition to being able to create your own blocks, the package included lots of set blocks, from traditional to modern, as well as border and sashing blocks. I selected some blocks and proceeded to remove or add lines to the blocks in order to create new shapes.

One of the best features about this software package, was the ability to scan my own fabrics into the package so that I could actually see the finished product. This feature made me realize that my original idea of using the beige floral print in the outer border just did not work for me. I played around with my other fabric choices and quickly decided that a green border would be best. When showing off my new toy to my daughter, she quickly rotated the pink blocks so that now I had a star in around the center portion of the quilt. That was much better than my haphazard arrangement.

Playing around a little more I noticed that when I set the block size, I could then see the yardage requirements and the cutting sizes for the blocks. What a great feature! But when I told someone I knew about my new software, she told me to be careful of the measurements generated by the program because they could be off. With this in mind, I decided I should make test blocks to test the accuracy of the cutting diagrams. Except for adding an 1/8 of an inch to the triangles, I kept all the other measurements the same and was pleased to find that I ended up with 11.5 inch blocks as planned.

The yardage requirements indicated that I would not have enough of the green for the border. I played with adding cornerstones and center pieces to fudge the green but everything I did still came up with needing a minimum of 2.25 yards of green fabric for the whole quilt and of course I only had 2 yards of the required fabric. For now, I hope that the package is generous with the fabric requirements but I have a feeling that I will need to buy another suitable green fabric for the border. Hmm! Shopping for new fabric is not a bad thing, is it?

 

Quilt Finishes 2016

As 2016 quilts2016-2was coming to a close, I was rushing to finish my annual quilt projects. With two projects completed and one nearing the finish line I present my creative journeys of wandering around the quilt block for 2016.

My largest project, begun at the end of 2015 and continuing to the very end of 2016 was my Home Garden quilt. This was a log cabin quilt with alternating flower blocks. quilts2016-5As mentioned in a previous post, I did have to take it off the quilt frame and complete it using a 12 inch hoop when I realized the leaders were reversed on the frame. The quilt design was a simple flower in the log cabin blocks and an 8 pointed flower resembling a fleur de lis in the floral blocks. I used a leaf stencil to create a chain in the orange border and finished up with butterflies along the outer border. I created the binding using the remaining yellow and red fabrics from the floral blocks.

Next up, my daughter and I collaborated quilts2016-3on a baby quilt for a nephew and his wife who greeted their first daughter in October. My daughter already had the Under the Sea panel, so we brain-stormed on a block design for the border then contributed fabric from our individual fabric collections.  Once a pattern was designed we each contributed 10 fish blocks (Hmm. Looking at the finished product now, I just noticed that there is an extra fish, so someone completed 11 blocks). My daughter has a much better artistic view of things than I do, so she assembled the quilt and completed it on her longarm machine using an overall sea grass and bubble design.

Finally, quilts2016-4my challenge quilt. I normally restrict myself to squares, rectangles and half or quarter square triangles in creating my quilts. But this year someone kept challenging me to do something with curves so I found a leaf design that seemed to fit the bill. I have completed the piecing for the quilt and I must say, I am not sure that I would do curves again. I did have quilters tell me after I had created stencils for cutting out the pieces, that things would have been easier if I had a curved ruler and a tiny rotary cutter for cutting out the pieces (right tool for the job and all of that) but I don’t know how much that would have helped. I discovered 3 problems with doing curves. The first was in quilts2016-1piecing the curves; no matter how many pins I used and how slow I ran my machine to keep the pieces against my ¼ inch seam foot, my seams ran from a quarter inch to almost non-existent. The second problem was a problem I also have with triangles; when too many seams meet in one place there is just too much bulk for the machine needle to easily go through all the layers. This also prevents the block from lying flat. Finally there was the block assembly with each block consisting of four leaf blocks. One would expect that when you sew two squares together the finished product would be an even rectangle but some of my rectangles came out looking a little more like a “V”. My only fix at that point was to trim or square the finished block for final assemble. As a result some of the edges of the leaves were clipped a bit. I finished the piecing and put together a back for quilt using a brown fabric and a yellow / orange starburst fabric before the close of December. Hopefully by the end of January or February I will have completed the quilting of outlining the leaves and adding vein lines to the leaves. So yes, I took up the challenge and the quilt doesn’t look that bad for a first attempt but unless I can either find a class on curved piecing or have someone show me how to do it or give me pointers, I am not sure I would attempt another.

Whoops

As I waslogcabindec16-2 reaching the end of quilting my large Home Garden quilt, I kept getting a bad feeling. Somehow, I had the thought that when we re-assembled the frame after moving, we reversed the front (take up) and the back (feed) rollers. The rollers themselves would not matter but the length of the leader fabrics would make a big difference. If the longer leader was not on the back roller, I would not be able to get the last little bit of the quilt into the quilting space and would have to finish it off the frame.

Before I reached that point, I ran into another snag. As I was rolling the next to last row into the sewing space the rollers stopped moving and would not budge. I looked all around the frame and crawled under it but could not find a reason for the rollers getting stuck.logcabindec16-1 Of course, my husband took one look at it and said “there’s the problem, the batting is as far as it can go.” How true. I had fastened the batting to the bottom roller (which was really not necessary) and once I released it from the roller, I was good to go.

I continued sewing the last two rows,until sure enough, I reached the end of the feeder roller.  I could comfortably stitch the first inner border and could, at a stretch, stitch the second border. Now, I do have long arms but I am not a gorilla, so the third border would LogCabinMay16.4really be an uncomfortable stretch.  I had no choice but to remove the quilt from the frame and sew the last two borders with a 12 inch hoop. This actually turned out to be a good thing because I realized I did not know how I connected the butterflies around the corners on the lower edge of the quilt. Once the quilt came off the frame, I noticed that I did not connect the butterflies at all but stitched a flower in each corner, so some good came of my mishap after all. Here’s hoping for a finish before the end of the year.