Finish it Up! Results

As summer vacation is coming to a close, it’s time to post the results of my Finish it Up! goals.

My goal was to work on my IN PROGRESS/DUE projects and skip the LONG TERM and ON HOLD/IN LIMBO projects (which I described here).

IN PROGRESS/DUE (i.e. want to finish before September or sooner)

  • [Arcadian Meadow] FinishedArcadian Meadow (throw quilt): finished!
  • County Picnic (picnic quilt): no progress; waiting until I get my new sewing table at the end of September to finish quilting
  • Knowledge, Faith, Nurture (potholders): no progress; must finish binding before preschool starts in September.
  • Sew Fun 2 | May | ErinBee Blocks (x3): finished!
  • Hopscotch Patchwork (picnic/throw quilt): now quilting; I will finish before end of month
  • Trudy Tres (throw quilt): no progress; will complete before end of year

It doesn’t look like I worked on much this summer, does it? Only TWO finishes?!? This list is deceptive. Despite trying to focus on my current WIPs this summer, I still managed to start new projects and create even more WIPs (total now at 14!).

I’m a strange soul. I don’t like to be told what to do, even when it is *me* telling me what to do. That doesn’t even make sense, does it? I generally work when inspiration or motivation strikes.

So, what new things did I start?

  • Apples Squared: a DallasMQG challenge mini quilt (status: making blocks, backing complete; due: September)
  • [Liberty Stars] WIPLiberty Stars (thumbnail right): a twin size quilt that I’ll donate to the elementary school’s silent auction (status: have made 30+ blocks, need 48; due: November)
  • Pocket Pixies Apple Core: nap quilt for Tessa (status: die-cut pieces cut out; due: August 2012)
  • Raw Edge Apple Core Tester: to make before Tessa’s nap quilt to figure out technique (status: die-cut pieces cut out)

In addition to these, I need to start a few more quilts in the very near future.

  • Baby quilt (fabric TBD): for J’s co-worker; baby was born today! (due: ASAP)
  • Rainbow Squares: commission throw-sized quilt (status: design determined; due: November)
  • Rainbow Circles: commission throw-sized quilt (status: design determined; due: November)
  • Blue + Green: commission throw-sized quilt (status: design determined; due: November)

I am afraid that my WIP list is going to continue to grow instead of shrink. Eek!

[Ode] Progress

I now have a little bit of every Flea Market Fancy print after my begging plea for help in a previous post. I owe a huge THANK YOU to Angie, Penny, Steph, Jenny, Alecia, Dorrie, Amy, Erin, Amy, Krista, and Jenn for donating to or swapping with me. Often times, it takes a village to make a quilt, and this quilt is no exception.

In other news, Denyse Schmidt released sneak peeks of her next JoAnn collection, Sugar Creek, which will be available in late August.

[Ode] Progress

Now that I have all FMF in hand and know what Sugar Creek looks like, I have an idea of how all of the fabrics will work together in my Ode quilt. I have been tracing and cutting out more pieces to add to my design wall (placement of colors no where close to final).

[Ode] Progress

For the Sugar Creek prints, I made little paper swatches of the fabrics by printing out the pictures of the collection and cutting them up. I’ve pinned the paper swatches to my design wall where I think they will work. Obsessed much??

Originally I thought I would use a white or an ivory background with the circles, but that choice seems too safe. So, now I am leaning more toward a darker neutral like Moda Bella Solids in Stone (daring, right?!). You can see what bright KJR colors look like on Stone in this image and here’s another quilt with Stone (both not mine). Stone is a good way to go, right?

Ode to Denyse

Just like every other modern quilter, one of my favorite fabric designers is Denyse Schmidt, the modern quilting maven.

denyse schmidt
Katie Jump Rope Collection. Image source: DSquilts website

I first started quilting about the time when Katie Jump Rope, Denyse’s second fabric collection, was fairly easy to find (sans a couple prints). KJR might be my favorite fabric collection of all time. In my opinion, KJR is practically perfect. It is classic; colorful but not too bright; and it can look masculine or feminine, depending on which prints you use. And the prints mix and match easily with other fabrics. I guess Flea Market Fancy fits that criteria too, huh?

My love for Denyse’s fabric didn’t stop with KJR and I have since collected all or some of the prints in all of her other collections.

Denyse’s fabric plays so nicely together and I have known for a long time that I wanted to make a quilt showcasing just that. I had not been able to settle on a design, but I finally figured out the design this week while reading through the archives of the Molly Flanders blog.

Mary (aka Molly Flanders) posted an example of a flowering snowball quilt/quilt block and it hit me – this is it! I left a comment for Mary about it and then we emailed back and forth. Mary kindly offered to send me templates for the block and I also played in Illustrator trying to figure out how the quilt and colors could come together.

Ode to DenyseDespite really needing to work on other projects (projects that I need to finish THIS month), I just could not get this quilt out of my mind. I figured out how to make templates using an extra plastic divider I had on hand (a first for me) and I quickly started tracing and cutting fabric.

I pulled out my Curve Master foot and tried it for the first time by piecing together parts to a couple of blocks to make sure I really could do full-on curved piecing. Once I figured out I could, every single bit of DS fabric I have came out so I could see how it would all coordinate together.

Ode to DenyseWith the way that I am utilizing the block design, I will have to know exactly where each block goes in relation to what is around it before piecing the blocks. The “blocks” shown above have not been pieced yet (save two partial curves); they are just on the design wall so I could see how the individual circles look.

Ode to DenyseI love how a secondary pattern of lighter circles show up in the design because of fabric placement and value differences in the fabrics.

The plan is to use a creamy white to the insides of the secondary circles (where the design wall white is showing). I had wanted to use a darker neutral but then I don’t know if the circles would pop like I want with a darker neutral.

It felt really good to finally cut into fabric I have been coveting and hoarding for a couple of years. In doing so, I discovered that I really like the basecloth for Hope Valley. And, while I have always been in the minority in the modern quilting world for liking Greenfield Hill, I like GFH even more now after getting to play with it. It might be too traditional for some modern quilters, but I think it is quite divine in a refined but bold way. You can see in these photos that it very easily coordinates with the other collections.

Ode to DenyseTo note: this is not the final layout; I still have more fabrics to add. I am waiting on a package from Australia to arrive as it contains the ten Australia-exclusive DS Quilts Picnic & Fairground prints.

Desparately ISO FMF and CFETA: All missing prints found. Thank you everyone for helping me out! I am missing a few Flea Market Fancy prints that I would LOVE to add to this quilt. I do not need big pieces – a 5″ charm is perfect. I would like to buy/swap for these missing prints, if anyone out there has them and wants to take pity on me help me out.

Ode to DenyseI know I will wait until at least the end of summer before I work to piece the top because Denyse has another DS Quilts line, called Sugar Creek, being released at JoAnn stores in late summer. After that, I will have to decide if I want to wait until FMF is re-released early next year before I complete the quilt.

I anticipate this being another throw-sized quilt and it stay with us. I think I will call it Ode to Denyse. :)

Project: Golden Sampler

I have wanted to make a sampler quilt for quite awhile but could not decide on the designs or fabric so I kept putting it off. I even contemplated tackling a Dear Jane® quilt, but then came to my senses.

About a month ago, it dawned on me how I could make the perfect sampler. My parents will celebrate their golden 50th wedding anniversary in a couple of years and I can make them a sampler quilt as gift. I will call it the Golden Sampler.

I think I subconsciously got the idea for the sampler quilt from a friend who is in the process of putting together a sampler quilt to tell the stories of her mother’s childhood.

Project: Golden SamplerEach year of my parents’ marriage will be represented by a block. There are 51 “year” blocks when you include the first year of marriage, year 0. The name of each block and the fabric motifs in each block will reference events/milestones/interests of my parents from that year. My dad was in the Air Force and they moved a couple dozen times, so there will be many themes and memories to showcase.

Project: Golden SamplerSince 51 blocks is an awkward number to turn into quilt top, I am adding three bonus blocks to fill out a nine by six layout; one to represent my dad’s childhood, another for my mom’s childhood and the third to show their family tree now with all of the grandchildren.

Project: Golden SamplerI already have a nice little pile of fabrics pulled for the Golden Sampler; some were in my stash and others I have picked up since starting this project.

I planned to keep this project a secret from my parents but quickly learned that I would need their help so I would know how to properly illustrate their history together.

Project: Golden SamplerMy plan for the quilt is really coming together. I have been researching and drafting block patterns practically non-stop. As I get history details from my parents, I put them in a dedicated Moleskine squared notebook. The notebook is also where I am figuring out the dimensions for the block parts.

Project: Golden SamplerInitially, I checked out Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns book from the library, but have since bought my own copy since I know I will reference it for years to come. I only have a handful of quilt books, but this one is by far my favorite. Almost all of the quilt block designs that I am using are from this encyclopedia.

Project: Golden SamplerI am really looking forward to seeing this quilt come together. I hope to get a couple of blocks done each month. I will probably post photos of the blocks as I make them. I am waiting on some fabric to arrive and once it does, I will get started on the first couple of blocks, representing 1980 and 1984.

Project: Golden SamplerIf I did not have this project to work on, I am sure that I would have joined in a sampler quilt-a-long just starting up to feed the ‘sampler’ bug I was feeling. Also, Barbara Brackman (author of the encyclopedia mentioned above) has an interesting blog commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a block of the week. It is interesting to read about the history of our country in addition to which fabric colors and patterns were used 150 years ago.

Quilt Labels

Most often, I have labeled my quilts using a sew-in tag with my LULU~BLOOM moniker. In addition to using the sew-in tag, I have also tried machine letter-stitches, hand writing with a fabric pen, and hand embroidery on a pre-printed label. For awhile I have felt like this is not enough but I could not think of a better (and easy) solution.

Past Labeling Methods
I want an attractive, easily reproduced, inconspicuous labeling solution that gives the who/what/when of the quilt as well as care instructions.

I thought about creating a label design and printing through Spoonflower, but I wanted a label solution with more flexibility than that.

I looked online to see what others are doing (there is even a flickr grouped dedicated to quilt labels) and I saw a label that I really liked. Rachel (2ndAveStudio) uses a stamp to create her label which got me thinking that stamping would be a good method for me. Then I saw this label on flickr that incorporated care label icons. With those two labels as inspiration, I set about to create a label design that would best work for me.

New Quilt Labeling Solution

{ After heat setting and washing, there was not any noticeable fading. }

I spent a little time in Illustrator to create my designs then uploaded those files to Simon’s Stamps on Sunday night. By Thursday afternoon I had my custom stamps in hand. That turn around time is really impressive when you consider that Simon’s Stamps is in Massachusetts and I am in Texas, and the package was sent USPS First Class Mail and not even Priority. The stamps are very economical too; it was less than $25 for two custom stamps, including shipping.

New Quilt Labeling Solution

{ In order to get clean stamp lines, I taped down the fabric to be stamped. }

To give me some flexibility, I decided to make two stamps. One with the “made by” information and the other with the care instructions. The recipient and date information will be handwritten with a fabric pen.

New Quilt Labeling Solution

{ Several colors of Kona solids after being washed. }

I want my labels to blend into the quilt, so I will stamp on fabric that coordinates with the quilt and then piece it into the back. I bought a few different colors of fabric ink to see what would work best on a variety of fabric.

New Quilt Labeling Solution

{ I tried black VersaCraft and black VersaMagic ink, but thought the VersaCraft provided a richer image. The brown VersaCraft is ok and works as a not-so-dark neutral, but I wish it was a little darker (this one looks like a milk chocolate and I wish it looked more like a dark chocolate). The white VersaMagic is a chalk-like ink and shows up on dark fabric/paper. The stamped image doesn't show up as much as I would like but it is still legible. I doubt I will need it often since I usually have at least a little bit of lighter fabric in my quilt backs (so I can use the black or brown). I also tried a light grey VersaMagic ink, but it was neither dark enough or light enough to really show up on any color of fabric. I couldn't find a darker grey but I may try to create one of my own by mixing the light grey VersaMagic + black VersaMagic. }

After testing the different inks and on different fabrics (and washing the fabric to see if it really is permanent), I am going to use VersaCraft (Real Black, Chocolate) and VersaMagic (Cloud White) inks. I ordered mine here. FYI: The ink manufacturer‘s directions say to prewash the fabric to remove sizing and then heat set the ink with an iron.

I think these labels are going to be a great solution for me and I look forward to seeing them worked into a finished quilt.

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I am not sure why I feel the need to be so longwinded just to show you my new quilt labels. I find that ironic because I really struggle to turn my thoughts into words.

Miscellany

A writer I am not. I have tried to get these thoughts out of my head several times, but they just do not want to flow in a logical way. So, instead, I will use my pictures to guide the way.

I go through a good bit of masking tape, as a quilter.

Basting

I use the high adhesion variety to baste my quilts (the medium-high adhesion is not sticky enough to keep my fabric as taut as I would like it). I baste on a hard flat surface (my bathroom floor) and use the grout lines to align the back and top.

Basting

I only tape the backing and I lay the batting over it and smooth it out with my hands. Then I lay the top out on the batting and smooth, smooth, smooth. The batting holds the top in place as I pin. I do a lot of re-smoothing as I pin, so it’s smooth, smooth, pin, smooth, smooth, pin, and so on. I seldom get puckers and I think it is because I am pretty fastidious with my basting.

Pinning Blocks

I use the medium adhesion masking tape to label my blocks when they are in their final position on my design wall. When it comes time to sew the blocks together, I can do so without worry regarding the order and orientation. The taped labels remind me of both. And I save and reuse my labels until they are no longer sticky. (You could also use blue painter’s tape, but I find the medium adhesive works fine for me and it is what I have on hand.)

And related to the picture above, see those pins? They are now my friends. I have made enough quilts to know when it is most advantageous to pin. And I also know when I can get by without pinning.

Points

It turns out that I am improving as a quilter and my points are matching up more often than not. How about that? I am guessing that has something to do with the aforementioned pinning.

Because I am learning to sew a consistent 1/4″ seam and my points are matching up better, I am cautiously opening my eyes to a wider variety of quilt designs to try. Like dresden plates, a large quilt full of HSTs (I’ve only done small quantities of HST before), pieced circles, and possibly the + and X quiltalong on flickr. My confidence as a quilter is growing so I am eager to try some new-to-me techniques and designs.

How about you? Are you trying anything new-to-you?

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