Speedy Patchwork and a Pre-Wash Surprise!

Well! This was a bit of a surprise! To allow the fibres to shrink before cutting and piecing I pre-washed a piece of white cotton from IKEA I wasn’t expecting the colour to change! I mean it’s white, there’s no dye to bleed!

Left: Before washing and Right: After washing

My husband knows a thing or two about this and says its the OBA (Optical Brightening Agent) in the detergent and demonstrated it’s effect with a UV light πŸ™‚

Left: Before washing and Right: After washing

I generally wash my quilting cottons before cutting and piecing. I know there are good arguments on both sides of the pre-wash vs. don’t wash debate. I just feel more comfortable knowing excess dye has been washed out of deep colours and the cotton fibres have shrunk before I start sewing. Of course there are exceptions to most rules and I’m willing to be pragmatic on this issue. Fabrics in packs of pre-cut strips and squares can’t be washed without fraying and becoming distorted. If I’m using pre-cut strips or squares I don’t wash the background fabrics I’ll be piecing with them – they can all shrink together when the finished quilt is washed.Β  And scrap quilts do end up being a mix of pre-washed fabrics and off-cuts from unwashed pre-cuts. So, in principle, I pre-wash but there are plenty of exceptions πŸ˜€

Back to sewing πŸ™‚ I decided to take out the dark solid from the blocks I made over the weekend. I don’t think it was the dark colour value bothering me, it was much more that the chunk of solid colour in amongst the prints and lighter solids kept drawing my eye – becoming less a place to rest the eye and more of a distraction.

Looking at a B&W image of the completed quilt top I’m satisfied there is a fair range of value without the dark solid.

 

Having completed this quilt top my attention went straight back to the remaining fat quarters.

I decided on another simple block pattern and found a really helpful strip piecing technique for making the blocks in Allison Harris’ book, ‘Growing Up Modern’. It was easy to adapt her width-of-fabric instructions to my fat quarters and non-standard width IKEA cotton. I am enjoying giving my sewing machine a pedal-to-the-metal workout as we race through all the long seams together πŸ™‚

Ready for some high-speed strip-piecing action!

I haven’t decided on a layout for this quilt but as there are only four prints I think it may be easier to keep them in an orderly fashion rather than try to make a ‘random’ distribution. Here are the blocks I’ve made so far:

Linking with Jennifer for Wednesday Wait Loss – a place to encourage one-another to keep going with our WIPs. Also linking with Susan for Midweek Makers – she’s found a lot of green quilts to get in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day. With all this speedy strip piecing it seems appropriate to link with Denise for Put your foot down Thursday πŸ™‚

Lastly a heads up that this coming Saturday, 20th March, is International Quilting Day πŸ™‚ Will you be doing anything special to mark the day?

Allison

Flitting From Project to Project Before Lock Down

Yep! Here in England we are just a few hours away from the second lock down of the year. This was announced on Sunday so there’s been a fair bit of last minute purchasing going on before all but essential shops close for four weeks. Of course, online shopping and click & collect services will continue so really there’s no need to rush around in a panic…

I’m trying to keep common sense thinking to the fore but often failing. I’m very grateful that this morning happened to be the fortnightly women’s Bible study held by our Church (on Zoom, of course). It’s good to have the grounding of Biblical truths to dwell on and learn from in these times when it’s too easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the moment forgetting this is all happening in just a tiny fragment of eternity.

I have to admit my thought processes have been particularly scatty over the past few days. I’ve not been able to settle to sewing, yet in the wee small hours last night I found myself planning another patchwork project! At least figuring quilt math in the dark and quiet got me back to sleep in double quick time! This morning I went into my sewing room all set to work on this new project (like I need another project!) but got distracted straight away by the piles of fabric scraps left on the cutting table…

Well! That got me back to sewing anyways.

Before the Zoom meeting I got those stray scraps stitched together and added them to the partially finished Scrap Vortex blocks. My cutting table now looks more orderly and my design wall more colourful. For this week that counts as a result!

The project I lay awake planning revolves around a pack of eight fat quarters I bought online in the last lock down. I had an idea for them then which is no longer floating my boat.

Melange ‘Misty Morning’ fat quarters on a grey background (I’ve tried to tone down the blue cast but the grey is still looking too blue/grey in this photo)

In fact I wonder why I so often fall for the temptation of pre-cut fabric packs? I always dither about how to use such packs to best effect, so they tend to stifle my creativity rather than inspire BUT a curated collection of fabrics always looks so attractive on a shelf πŸ˜€ Is it just me or do you notice in photos of other crafters sewing rooms stacks of beautifully arranged fabric bundles glowing brightly among perfectly colour-matched notions and curios? To quote Queen, ‘Is this real life? Or just a fantasy?’Β 

Oh! My goodness! My thoughts are flying around like I’m experiencing a prolonged caffeine rush! I will bring this stream of consciousness nonsense to a close very soon I promise! I feel so sad for young people who have had to postpone wedding dates, cancel much needed holidays or are struggling to find employment. For me lock down doesn’t bring many disappointments: the main one is not being able to have direct contact with my parents and other family members (no indoor mixing of households permitted πŸ™ ); the final class of the Beginners Course has had to be postponed, I feel for the students who are so close to completing their first quilts and will now have to wait; I was enjoying the social aspects and sense of purpose working a few hours each week in Purple Stitches provided, hopefully that will recommence in December or the New Year.

On a final thought-flit: I would love to be producing more patchwork patterns. I have almost as many pattern UFOs as quilt UFOs. To write patterns more efficiently (I could hardly be less efficient!) I really need to grapple with Adobe Illustrator rather than getting frustrated with the limitations of Microsoft Word. Hum! Maybe it will do my flutter-by mind good to apply it’s limited capabilities to learning new software? Or maybe I’ll just end up eating a lot of chocolate and throwing my laptop out of the window πŸ˜€

Anyone else going a bit loopy this week?

Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers.

Allison

Quilting Diamonds Across Dashing Stars

Me and Julie the Juki are busy stitching straight lines across the Dashing Stars quilt. I’ve used the walking foot guide bar to keep the quilting lines spaced 2Β½” apart. The piecing design is full of straight lines that emphasise a horizontal & vertical grid. I decided to mix it up a bit by introducing quilting lines at an angle of 60° to create a diamond grid.

The pink arrow is pointing to the 60 degree line on the ruler. The line is positioned over a horizontal seam. The Hera marker is next to the edge of the ruler which lies where the quilting stitches will run.

To ‘draw’ the initial 60Β° line I matched up the marking on a ruler with a horizontal seam on the patchwork. I used a Hera Marker along the edge of the ruler to create an impression on the fabric right across the quilt before laying down a strip of masking tape to use as my guide.

I stitched along the edge of the tape, removed it and then repeated the marking process with a line running all the way across the quilt in the opposite diagonal direction. I chose to mark these initial two lines to intersect at the very centre of the quilt top. Next I set up the walking foot guide with a 2Β½” gap between the guide and the machine needle.

Stitching with the guide bar is quick and has the advantage that no quilting lines need to be marked on the fabric. However, I have been checking every three or four rows of stitching to make sure my lines haven’t become bowed or moved away from the 60Β° angle. It’s simple enough to straighten things out by using the ruler, Hera Marker and masking tape to get the next line back on track.

I’m using 50wt Aurifil 2600 thread and have increased the machine stitch length to around 2.5 from the usual piecing length of about 1.8.

I hope you have an opportunity to be a Midweek Maker. Click over to Susan’s blog, Quilt Fabrication, to find out what she and other makers are up to this week.

Allison

PS. I think the comments box on this page may be broken – apologies if you have attempted to leave comments to previous posts and been unsuccessful or wondered why I haven’t replied. I will endeavour to get any problems fixed.

Making a Spiral Template for Walking Foot Quilting

Working on UFO’s is very satisfying! My current WIP (Work In Progress) became a UFO way back in July 2018. I suspect I couldn’t figure a way of quilting over or around such a variety of 6″ blocks so abandoned the quilt top along with a pieced backing including an integrated label (wahoo!) and a piece of cotton wadding cut to size.

Looking at the quilt after a two year break I decided to stitch a spiral to fill in the centre of the quilt and continue using the walking foot to echo some straight lines through the borders.

First task to tackle with a spiral design is drawing one! I used Yvonne Fuch’s method to draw the centre of a spiral. I drew mine onto a sheet of paper continuing the spiral lines until they were 2″ apart – the spacing I planned to use in the quilt stitching. To transfer this spiral onto the quilt I opted to make a template. Not having any template plastic to hand, I cut up an old, clear plastic, zip lock folder and traced my spiral using a permanent marker. I then cut along the spiral twice to create a narrow opening to use as a stencil.

(On reflection the template would be more stable if I hadn’t cut a continuous spiral but had instead left some little ‘bridges’ of plastic like those found on commercially produced stencils).

I tested out the template on a practice quilt sandwich using a Hera Marker. The groove left by the marker was a little hard to see (even with side lighting as suggested by Yvonne) but for a first attempt I thought my spiral had worked reasonably well.

Stitching the first few ‘spins’ of a spiral using a walking foot can be a bit tricky especially when starting from the centre of a quilt as the tightest turns are being made with half of the quilt stuffed through the throat of the sewing machine. Tips for achieving this initial tricky maneuver include reducing stitch length and being prepared to stop every few stitches (with needle down), lift the foot and shift the quilt to keep the walking foot on the curve. As the spiral increases in size the stitch length can be increased and stopping to realign the walking foot will become less and less necessary πŸ™‚

I used the template and Hera Marker to start the spiral in the centre of my quilt. I chose to use a Hera rather than a marker pen or chalk as the fabric in the centre of the quilt just happened to be pure white πŸ™ Being anxious about using coloured markers anyway I just couldn’t bring myself to use one on white fabric slap-bang in the middle of a quilt top!

πŸ˜‰ It took two attempts to stitch reasonable curves but I’m happy with this and will be keeping my spiral template for future projects.

Two inch spiral seen on the back of the Chocolatier quilt. I used my walking foot with an adjustable guide bar to keep the stitching lines 2″ apart.

If you’d like to have a go at making your own spiral template you are welcome to download and print my drawing of a spiral if it would help πŸ™‚ Here is the link for the download: Spiral by Allison Reid New Every Morning patchwork and Quilting

Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers and Jennifer for Wednesday Wait Loss.

Allison