Sewing Along

I haven’t added to this blog but I’ve definitely been sewing! My current project is the Esmeralda Quilt from the Moda Bakeshop. I love that from straight lines, you can have the illusion of curves!

I’ve been sewing along on my Juki. All I need is straight stitch. This was a project where I had the layer cake and needed a pattern and stumbled upon the pattern.

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The pattern is composed of two blocks as you can see in the picture. I’ve got the quarters of each square sewn up and am working on sewing together each block.

Penrose

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to Penrose tiles, a non-periodic tiling pattern, by a person of great significance in my life. The first time I saw it, I knew that one day, I would have a version of it in quilt form. At the time, he had been writing some code to generate a picture of the Penrose tiles and that was the picture I saw. The tiling and the colors he used were my original inspiration.

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A quick search of the internet found very few quilts made using Penrose. With the number of adjoining corners, I knew I was going to have to do this by way of English paper piecing. For the templates, these are not your standard angled rhombus shapes so I had to cut my own. I was able to get the code from my original inspiration and after some tinkering, I printed out my pattern pieces in a size I wanted.

For the fabric, I’ve bought a lot of fabric trying to find something that would work. I am currently on my third set of fabric.

In the first iteration, I had run into the quilt shop and ran out with 2 blue and 2 yellow fabrics. They were mostly solids. Once I started sewing, I could see immediately that they did not sit well together and the contrast between shades was too abrupt and harsh. I had this feeling when I was picking them out but I decided to go ahead with it anyways.

In the second iteration, I spent a little more time at the quilt shop and came away with 4 blue prints and 4 yellow prints. I still wasn’t sure but again, I went ahead with it. After I began sewing, problems I noticed included, again, fabric differences were abrupt and harsh when placed next to each other in this tiling pattern, and the actual patterning on the fabric was distracting and not appropriate for the tiles.

Last weekend, I went to a different quilt shop because I needed to get out of the house and go somewhere. I had been thinking about Penrose again and thought about using some batiks. Batik fabrics, because of being dyed rather than printed, can have various shades on a single piece of fabric so I thought this would be interesting to try. Also, instead of those half sized blue tiles that the image has, there’s more flexibility in fabric color so I decided I would stick with the whole blue and yellow pieces. This would also cut down on the bulk at the sharp corners where the pieces joined, another problem I ran into on the previous iterations.

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I started with the bolt in the middle with the blue background and the yellow flower/leaf motif. Those were the two shades I wanted to use. From there, I tried to stick with blues and yellows still within range of that bolt but making sure it varied slightly both on the lighter and darker side. There’s more blues than yellows in the pattern so I have more blue fabric.

As I was walking around the quilt store, I realized that batiks was a very good choice for the shades of blue and yellow I wanted because I could only find the shades in the batiks. When I walked through the print section, the color was either too dark or too light and overall not what I wanted. (Also, without a car, getting to a quilt shop is difficult so I was going to make/buy the most of it)

After getting home, I got down to work. I was very happy with the beginning and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s all I want to do these days! Similar to knitting, once I find a pattern I like and materials I enjoy working with, the motivation is there in large quantities.

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When I first started on this project a couple of years ago, I wanted to make a quilt. After the first two iterations and my frustrations with it, I lowered expectations to an 18″ x 18″ pillow. Now, with these fabrics, I’m back to the quilt. I have the idea drawn out and I plan on going back to get more fabric to make sure that I have enough.

Hand piecing a large portion of a queen sized quilt is going to take some time but I am going to enjoy the process the entire way!

Progressing on the quilt

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When I bought my new Juki TL2010Q, I was concerned about whether or not a king size quilt can fit comfortable in it. Well, I’ve gotten started on my quilting and yes, it can! As with most home machines, you’re limited in how much room you have to move that quilt around.

What I found worked best was to sew in a small area and making sure to keep the quilt supported. King size quilts are HEAVY! I’m very happy with the quilting for now. I’m getting ready to switch designs and maybe add some wavy swirls and trying to figure out how much movement that involves.

The Juki is definitely easier to quilt on than my old Singer since it has the extended table and a larger throat. It certainly doesn’t beat a long arm or even a mid arm but for an affordable at home machine that doesn’t take up a whole room, I’m very happy with it. I’ll just keep quilting along!

Board basting

I woke up yesterday morning and watched the Royal Wedding while getting started on sandwiching a king sized quilt. I’m working on a king size quilt as a wedding present and since I embarked on this project, I had been trying to figure out how to best sandwich this. I live in an apartment in the middle of the city and there just isn’t enough space.

Then I read about board basting where you smooth and roll your backing onto a base board and you smooth and roll your quilt top onto another base board. You still need a long flat space but at least you don’t need a flat space the full size of the quilt.

The backing goes down first and I left about 18 inches to 2 ft of it unrolled and smooth out on the floor. Then, I laid down the batting. Finally, I placed the quilt top down. Then, as I smooth everything down, I safety pinned it all in place.

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I had to do a little bit at a time since opening and closing the safety pins made my hands really sore. Plus, it’s a bit of a work out as you crawl around trying to pin and then having to unroll and smooth. I even went grocery shopping half way through! I was finished by the afternoon and I’m really excited. Time to quilt!

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Have a heart!

It was love at first sight when I saw Lella Boutique’s Open Heart quilt. I’m not usually into a lot of hearts but I really liked this! I bought the pattern and it has sat on my computer for close to a year. I want to keep a white background and use some scraps from some of my favorite fabrics for the hearts. Additionally, I want to make a couple of modifications: more blocks for a queen size quilt and sashing between each block.

This quilt has been on my mind since I bought it but I’ve had other projects take priority. Right now, I’m waiting for more thread for one quilt and I need to sandwich another quilt. Since I’m using scraps, I can make a block here or there so today, I made my first block using some awesome Alice in Wonderland fabric from Cotton and Steel.

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Start of a new era

It’s the start of a new era, both for this blog and for me as a quilter.

I used to have a blog to keep track of my knitting and beading and some of my life goings on and I stopped updating that quite a few years ago. I…kind of…miss that. So, projects. Probably a lot of sewing projects here, mixed with some knitting projects since that’s primarily what I’m doing these days – sewing and knitting.

On knitting, I’ve worked my way through various techniques and patterns and am fairly confident in tackling it all. With sewing, even though I’ve been sewing off and on for the last 20 years, I don’t feel as advanced as my years of sewing would suggest. I think it’s because I’ve only pulled out my sewing periodically, like every few years. I’ve sewn more in the last five years or so thanks to quilting. There’s still a lot to learn

In those twenty years, I’d been sewing on an old (“old”) Singer that my mom bought in the late 1980s. We weren’t rich by any means and I’m sure she researched and bought the best machine that we could afford at the time. This machine is an extension of me at this point. However, as someone who has mainly sewn quilts that were in the twin/queen size range, maneuvering them through the throat of the machine has not always been a good time. After some research and deliberating, yesterday a new machine arrived: the Juki TL2010Q.

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I was working from home on Friday and waiting impatiently for FedEx to deliver the machine. Upon logging off work, I sat down and started getting the machine set up. I sewed a couple of test pieces and then shoved a queen sized WIP in and got started. This is a queen sized quilt that is already bound off. I had stitched in the ditch around the blocks but there was additional quilting work that I wanted to do but hadn’t because I was so frustrated trying to move it around the machine.

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The thing about the actual quilting for me is that it will aggravate my left wrist. This is the wrist that about ten years ago, I was knitting up a storm and started experiencing some repetitive stress. So, sew a little, take a break. Sew a little, go get dinner. Still, at the end of the evening, my wrist hurt and I have a wrist brace on as I type.

I was away for the weekend and was able to give my hand a break so I’m trying really hard to step away from the machine after a little bit. This quilt is moving along! My upcoming summer project is quilting a king sized quilt.