Saturday, 27 October 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Woodland Mini Quilt

Last spring was the first time I participated in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, and I had a great time. There are some amazingly creative and talented people out there, and going through their favourite creations gave me a lot of inspiration. I'm happy to be participating again, and sharing my favourite project from the summer. This was my very first attempt at hand quilting, and I enjoyed it a lot. Quilts can be nominated in several categories, and mine fits into doll/mini quilt, applique, and two colour quilt.

Amy's Creative Side

As inspiration for this quilt, I made some larger scale mushroom houses to match my adorable Natalie Lymer woodland fabric. Both of these were hand sewn from a pile of tiny felt scraps in order to pass the time on a plane ride.

I enjoyed this hand sewing opportunity, so on my next trip I pieced a small quilt to bring along, in addition to my felt mushroom houses. I spent the next ten days hand sewing the mushrooms onto the quilt, and then outlining all of the red sections with matching thread. Considering that this was my first attempt at hand quilting, and that a lot of it took place while sitting in the back seat of a truck, I think the stitching turned out remarkably well.

The felt mushrooms came out nice and puffy. I really enjoy using felt for applique because it adds a lot of texture and gives the quilt something soft that you want to reach out and touch.

This project started out with the intention of making a decorative toilet tank topper for our guest bathroom, inspired by this awesome Ghastlies tank topper. Unfortunately, when came the time to cut it down to size, I just couldn't bear to chop off part of the applique on which I'd worked so hard. I decided to bind it as-is and keep it as a mini quilt. The finished size is 18" by 9".

This means that I have the chance to design another mini for the bathroom. I'm looking forward to it, and will try not to get too attached this time. But for now, I'm off to check out the other quilts being shared for the festival!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Groove Quilt - Step Four

Just as I was getting ready to order batting online for my Groove Quilt, I got an email announcing the reopening of my local quilt shop in their new location. Yay! I'll be heading down there soon to stock up. In the meantime, I've been making good progress preparing for the actual quilting step, and am linking up with UFO Sunday at the Free Motion Quilting Project for inspiration.

I came up with a design for the back of my Groove Quilt before I'd even started the front of it. It's inspired by some vintage fabric I found at Mitchell Fabrics in Winnipeg this summer. You may remember this photo of the fabric with my original sketch:

Once sewn together, this comes to an overall size of 105 inches square (8.75 feet!) and looks really groovy indeed. I haven't seen it fully laid out yet. It's been very windy this past week, so I wasn't able to take it outside, and it's bigger than the available floor space anywhere in the house. What I did instead was photograph two blocks and create a composite.

This will be the back - pictures of the front side are in my last post here

So my question for you is: how would you baste something this big?

I really like the idea of doing it in sections on a table using binder clips, but all of our larger tables seem to be either really thick or have rounded edges. The coffee table is a a contender, but it's pretty small. Alternatively, the wonderful folks on Flickr have suggested this basting technique by Sharon Schamber using two boards. I am also considering this method, but without the boards. I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to the basting step at all. I wish it was over with so that I could get on with the fun part.

One thing I noticed once all of the blocks had been sewn was a rip in my vintage fabric. It looks like this happened on the manufacturing end, since there are traces of a very faded quality assurance stamp right next to the hole. This small unplanned imperfection actually gave me the chance to add a really fun vintage touch to the quilt. With a little bit of crazy stitching, I gave it the look of having been darned by a grandmother. I love that detail.

I've also been putting together some samples on which to try quilting designs. On this first one, I tested three different colours of thread: off-white on the top, grey in the middle, and black on the bottom.

The grey thread in the middle is the definite winner on the lighter colours, and the black thread looks best on the dark fabrics. The only two colour/design combinations that really worked here are the loops on orange, and the stippling on green. I'll be using these in the quilt for sure.

I've prepared another practice piece with the other three colours in order to test some more combinations this week. I'm looking for a design that will be fast and soft. Eventually, all of these practice squares will be turned into a cushion to match the finished quilt using Leah Day's technique for connecting quilted pieces

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Feathers and Paisley for Animal Rescue

I was so paranoid about changing my sewing machine settings before my Groove Quilt top was complete, that I haven't been able to keep up with September's Free Motion Quilting Project exercises. That's especially sad because this was the month we tackled paisley designs, which are some of my favourites. I'd been really hoping we would get a chance to work on them... and then I almost missed it!

To practice these designs, I put together a cat sized flannel blanket, which will be donated to an animal rescue centre through the Snuggles Project. Visit their page to find out how your sewing practice can benefit a local animal rescue organization.

I started this blanket by stitching September's FMQ Challenge design in the centre. It's a little wobbly, but I'm happy with how my travel stitching is coming along. This design was too traditional for me though, I would adapt it from a ring of feathers into a ring of flames next time.

Once the centre ring was complete, I started surrounding it with paisley designs. I spent the most time practicing traditional paisley in order to get a feel for the technique.

I love the organic look of this paisley, but quickly realized that this wasn't an ideal quilting design for this project. One of the most important parts of donating a blanket to an animal shelter is making sure that the blanket won't shrink or warp when it's washed. Shelter attendants don't have time to deal with that.

These paisley designs have a lot of very close stitching, and I was afraid that would interfere with the purpose of the blanket. The more stitching there is, the more it's likely to shrink when washed. I tried to make the next design much looser and avoid travel stitching as much as possible. This one is called lava paisley.

 I also dedicated a corner of the blanket to snake paisley and pointy paisley:

I really liked this family of designs, and look forward to working on them more, but I learned the lesson that not all quilting styles are appropriate for all projects. To pursue this, I am going to give this blanket a wash and see how it holds up.
I leave you with a view of the full blanket (from the back). I hope it can brighten a kitty's day!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Groove Quilt - Step Three

After a month of dedication and putting things off, my Groove Quilt top is finally all sewn together!

 You can get an idea of its size thanks to my amazing and helpful model. 

I'd gotten almost all the way through assembly, when I realized that I still had one unused piece lying around. Uh oh. Like with an IKEA dresser, having one piece left after the whole thing's been put together is generally not a good sign. 

Can you guess where this mysterious piece goes?

Am I going to take this section of the quilt apart to fix it? HA no way! It's barely noticeable, and definitely won't interfere with this becoming a warm bedspread. Besides, it is meant to be a groovy seventies quilt. If I sat a group of people on this quilt with a bong, I bet they would think the mistake is the coolest part. ("Duuude, did you notice that orange corner was broken?")

This quilt top still needs some ironing, some thread trimming, and some seam reinforcement, but I've been working on it exclusively for so long that I couldn't be happier to dump it onto my unfinished object pile for a little while. In fact, I am sharing it for UFO Sunday at the Free Motion Quilting Project.

For quilting this project, I've gotten three colours of Aurifil thread to experiment with. The part I'm worried about at the moment is batting. My favourite quilt shop has closed temporarily, and the other shop in town doesn't carry the same Hobbs Heirloom batting. Aack! This is my biggest project yet, and I'm not sure how I feel about buying a large amount of a batting I've never tried before. I don't think the quilt shop would give me some small samples to test beforehand. Not sure what to do about this. Should I just choose one that seems similar and hope for the best? Perhaps I should try to find a source online?

One thing is for sure, I'm going to really enjoy working on some other projects for a bit while I figure this out! (Like the quilt back, which is going to be almost as grrovy as the front - you can read more about it here.)