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General quilting tips

Posted 4-14-15 


  I'm given the opportunity to work on some special projects in my profession as a quilter, and the following is one such project.  A woman contacted me about taking the 2 heirloom bedspreads she and her brother slept under in their grandmother's house when they were children, and, salvaging the useable portions, reworking them into quilts she and her brother could use to continue to cherish the memory of their grandmother.

the original bedspread


I loved the little brocade medallions and marked a 6" block (finished size) around as many as I could.



I was able to save 30 of the medallions from each of the 2 bedspreads.  


I then backed the medallions with Thermo-web to stabilize them for piecing into the quilt. 



I decided to piece a simple 6" block in fabrics and colors that blended with the medallions.



The following pictures are 3 of the blocks I auditioned.



   I settled on the modified churn dash block (the middle block pictured above).  I should say at this time that this quilt was made for the brother so the colors and block design are a bit on the masculine side.  I'll show you a picture of the quilt I made for the woman at the end of this article and hopefully you will see how it appears more feminine next to her brother's quilt.


I made twenty churn dash blocks at a 6" finished size using piecing as shown


  Because I love an on point setting of blocks I had to cut two blocks at 5 1/4" x 5 1/4" cut in half once diagonally for the 4 corners of the quilt.  


 Next, I cut five blocks at 9 5/8" x 9 5/8" and cut them in half twice diagonally for the sides, top and bottom of the quilt.



  I used 30 of the prepared medallion squares, 20 churn dash squares, 4 corner triangles, and 18 side, top, and bottom triangles, to assemble the body of the quilt as shown.


 I then added three 2" finished size border strips to frame the quilt. 


Contrast this with the quilt I made for the woman and I think you'll see what I mean about the masculine and feminine feel to the quilts.


I really enjoyed working with the heirloom bedspreads and hope the customer and her brother get many more years of use out of the finished quilts.








Posted 8-21-12

I always have high hopes when I begin making a quilt of my own design.  I lovingly pick the fabrics, draft the design, and imagine the quilting.  In my mind's eye, it's a show stopper and prize winner.  Unfortunately, somewhere along the line from beginning to completion, I fall out of love.  Either the colors don't work the way I thought they would, or the design in too simplistic or too complicated, or I make mistakes in the construction or final quilting.

 Until this quilt.

 I loved this quilt from the moment I started. I loved how the voile of the shadow applique softened the flowers, and how the fabrics of the prairie points added just the right touch of brightness against the white of the background. Don't get me wrong, I was challenged at every step of construction of this quilt.  First I had to draft the pattern and decide the sizes of, and best way to piece the patches.

 I had to brainstorm how best to work with the voile to keep it from shifting and unraveling (at this point, the seam ripper and I got very familiar).

 I came up with a trick to space the prairie points so that they came together in a perfect V.

 But no matter what this quilt threw at me, I'd look at it and smile.  I always go over the top with my quilting, and I really agonized over what to add to the finishing of "Shadows of Spring" because so far it was going well and I didn't want to ruin it; but again, I was pleased with every quilting motif and background stitch I used.  


Then I had to put my baby in water to remove the quilt marking lines.  I knew there was the possibility of bleeding because of the bright fabrics. I was going to use some color catcher sheets, but then remembered the blue water soluble marking pens can discolor a quilt if detergent is added to the water before the marks are removed.  Did the color catcher sheets contain detergent?  I didn't know and couldn't find any ingredients listed on the box, so I didn't want to take the chance.  I soaked the quilt in cold water for just a few minutes and then let the washing machine spin it dry.  Maybe that's where I went wrong, because when I laid my quilt on the floor to block and dry it, in a couple places I could see faint shadows of color washing into the white background as though it had been drawn there by the spinning action.

 Aw, my heart sank.  It wasn't visible enough to ruin the quilt, and I'm probably the only one who can see it, but the perfection was gone.  I agonized over it for a night and tried to think how I could fix the problem.  Should I use bleach, or use a white marking pen or fabric paint to cover the bleeding, or rewash it with the color catcher sheets?  I was letting the situation kill my happiness and It had to stop.  It's said that the Amish purposely add a mistake to their quilts "because only God is perfect", and I decided to adopt their mindset.  Shadows of Spring is still the same lovely design with the same beautiful colors and quilting motifs.  Bleeding or no bleeding, my quilt makes me smile. 



Posted 7-3-12

Half Square Triangles (HST)

I always make my half square triangles slightly larger than called for then trim them down to the correct size.  I'll cut my paired squares to 3" if the pattern calls for 2 7/8", for example.  It takes extra time to trim but the accuracy of the size of the finished unit makes for perfect points in the finished block.


Usually, a diagonal line is drawn from corner to corner on the wrong side of one of the paired squares of fabric used to make a HST.  A 1/4" seam is stitched on either side of the drawn line resulting in 2 HSTs. 


I make up some of the time lost to trimming by marking the stitching line on the bed of my sewing machine instead of on the squares of fabric.  I place a piece of masking tape on my machine so that it's right edge runs parallel and 1/4" away from the center sewing line of the machine.


Line up the square of fabric so that its top corner is on the left side of your 1/4" foot and the bottom corner lines up with the right edge of the masking tape.


Stitch from corner to corner  then repeat on the other side.



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Last Updated: Jul 03rd, 2015 - 4:57 AM

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