28 March 2015

Bits and Bobs - 3

This is the third of what I hope will become a regular series of posts calling attention to awesome things I have encountered on the Internet. My purpose is to practice gratitude by making a record of the good stuff that I see around me and perhaps bring something fun and new to my readers.

  • I’m slowly working (late summer self-imposed deadline) on a etsy shop and blog redesign and have really been learning a lot from By Regina. She’s got all kinds of resources on thinking through, discovering, and enacting a consistent style through colors, fonts, and more.

  • I’m pretty sure I found By Regina through Abby Glassenberg’s newsletter. It’s a seriously good newsletter! Try it out…you can always unsubscribe later.

  • Speaking of newsletters, I just decluttered by inbox by signing up for UNROLL.ME. It’s great, you give it access to you email, it detects all the newletters you are getting and then for each one, you can either leave it as it is (something that will arrive in your inbox as a unique message), unsubscribe with a single click, or “roll” it, which means that it will be put into your personal daily digest. I should have done this a long time ago.

  • Have you heard of “Amazon Smile”? It’s the same thing as Amazon, but if you make your purchases on that site, you can designate a charity and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchase to that charity. This is at no additional cost to you! I’ve designated the local food pantry as my beneficiary. It was easy and now all I have to do is remember to start from smile.Amazon.com when I shop.

  • Finally, here are  a couple of fun feeds on Instagram to lighten your mood when you see them:

26 March 2015

Quartered Log Cabin (again!)

Emerald and Orchid Quilt by Rossie

It's done!  This beauty started a bit differently than most of my quilts.  It started as an answer to another quilt I had made, the Quartered Log Cabin Quilt, pictured on the right of the following picture.

Quartered Log Cabin Tutorial-1
Tutorial lives here.

I love this block and teach it as part of my "favorite improv blocks" class.  But the very things that make my first quartered log cabin quilt so pretty also makes it not the easiest class sample to talk through.  You see, the placement of the colors takes a lot of time to discuss and is a big part of why the quilt is effective.  But I knew in my mind that the quilt would work equally effectively if the colors weren't swooping across the quilt top.  So I cooked up a second quilt.

Plans. Plans. Plans.
A lot of the palette was pulled from the green feature print from Lizzy House's Catnap fabric line.  House is truly one of my favorite fabric designers and one of the things I love best about her work is the colors.  Pulling colors to match and play with her prints is really enjoyable and always pays off.  So that green feature print had a lot of things going for it color-wise, and I loved how dark it was, as I wanted a background fabric to the quilt that would be dark (in contrast to the whites of my first QLC).  Since the dark would make the background advance, it could also carry the print forward.  I think that played out the way I anticipated.  What do you think?

This quilt is eating all the time in the day and all the thread in the room. But it's cool! ��#emeraldandorchidquilt #quarteredlogcabin

The orchid colors were mixed in for a couple of reasons:  (1) monochromatic quilts aren't really my style and (2) I didn't have enough of the Catnap to make a quilt of the size I desired.  I was on a retreat at the time, and I had a stack of Kaffe Fassett shot cottons with me , so I pulled out the purples and was pleased that this worked perfectly. 

Fat quarter bundles of Kaffe Fassett shot cottons are still on sale for 50% off at Craftsy.  There's also a big yarn sale on Craftsy this weekend!  Click on the banner below to find both!

I'm really pleased with the way the quilt turned out.  There's no fussy placement of colors and the value play is different from the original, but it's still a very effective quilt.  And one I'll be glad to show photos of to my students to show the flexibility of the quartered log cabin.

Emerald and Orchid Quilt by Rossie

One additional twist on the tutorial...when it can time to quarter my log cabins, I did it on the Accuquilt!  You can see a short video of that in my instagram feed.  Specifically, here.  It was so fast and accurate.

Emerald and Orchid Quilt by Rossie

As I mentioned in my previous post about quilting this quilt, this quilt was purchased by a friend to give one of her friends, who just had a baby.  This influenced my choice of binding--I went with a colorful, playful feather print.

Emerald and Orchid Quilt by Rossie

I think it pulls out the different little snips of color really well.

Emerald and Orchid Quilt by Rossie

The back is a vintage sheet.

Emerald and Orchid Quilt by Rossie
Overall, I'm really please with this quilt.  Photos of it will be really useful in my class, I raised my game on the quilting front, made a little money, and found it a good home with a sweet family!

** The craftsy link is an affiliate link (I get a kickback if you click through and buy) and I am affiliated with Accuquilt and received their product at no cost.

21 March 2015

learning more about free-motion quilting

While I have been enjoying all the piecing I've been getting done, I've jumped into a bit of quilting this week.  You see, I sold one of my finished quilt tops to a friend, but she of course wants a QUILT, not a quilt top, so I needed to hop to it and actually quilt it.

You'll have to excuse me for posting "sneak peek" photos rather than proper photos, but this quilt is going to be given as a gift, so until it's in the intended hands, I'm holding back on the photos.

Monday morning quilting contemplations. #emeraldandorchidquilt #quarteredlogcabin

I've said it before and I'll say it again: quilting is my growth area.
I'm not horrible, but I'm not awesome.

With a new machine in my studio, one that a lot of people buy specifically for its free-motion quilting potential, I figured it was a good time to start again with learning to free motion quilt.  Now, I'm the sort of person that will quite happily submerge myself into someone else's logic and method for a good long while.  And then move on to a new person's way of doing/thinking.  And after I've hopped around for a bit, will finally mash them together into my unique, preferred technique.  This time I've gone back to basics with Leah Day as my guide. Craftsy has a few free-motion quilting instructors, I chose Leah's class because I love the lessons and designs on her blog).  I'm taking the "Free Motion Quilting a Sampler" class.  There are 13 lessons and I've completed 4 so far:  (1) Introduction; (2) Basting; (3) Basics & Supplies; (4) Stitching in the Ditch.

A few of my take-away from her Craftsy class so far:

1.  Starching your quilt top:  Day teaches her students her technique for starching a quilt top as a whole just before basting it.  This really sets a quilter up for success.

2.  sidenote not from Day's class:  Starching your quilt back:  My friend Lynn recently mentioned that she does this and I was super-excited by this obvious and awesome idea.  It makes it so much easier to maneuver that quilt around under a domestic machine if it is a bit stiff.

3. Which starch:  Day uses Niagara starch in the hand-pump bottle.  My friend Lynn mixes up starch that she buys at the grocery store.  I like to use Best Press (unscented) when piecing, but may start to use real starch at the point I'm ready to quilt.  The reason I prefer Best Press is that it doesn't contain starch and is therefore not as attractive to bugs.  I do wash my quilts, which removes the starch/starch alternatives as a final step, but I feel best using a starch alternative because of how much starched fabric is just sitting in my studio; from my WIP bins to my scrap collection, there's a lot of pressed and starched fabric in there!

Of the starch alternatives, I prefer Best Press because it really stiffens up the fabric and gives the fabric the hand I like.  If I was going purely on smell in a starch alternative, I'd use Flatter in the Yuzu  scent.  However, Flatter by Soak isn't stiff enough for my purposes; if Soak makes a new product called "Stiffer" in the Yuzu scent, they can have my starching dollars, but for now, I'm sticking with Best Press.

By the way, I buy the gallon bottles of Best Press (they retail for $44) and I cut the product with water: 1 part Best Press to 1 part water.   It works beautifully and is affordable.  Any shop with an account at a distributor like Checker or United Notions should be able to order in the gallon bottles for you if you ask.

4.  Basting:  Day really emphasizes the importance of basting carefully and her technique is not one I've seen before.  It looks fairly easy on the back and knees (she uses a table top) but seems really time-consuming (she pins very densely).

I think I need to take more time when I'm basting and consider it more carefully.  I tend to think of it as something to get out of the way, but I should try to learn to savor it and take pride in doing it well and carefully.

I may have just found the excuse I needed to buy this Carolyn Friedlander t-shirt from Patchwork Threads.  IT'S MY BASTING T-SHIRT.

5.  You may need to modify your free motion foot.  The darning foot that came with my Baby Lock Jane didn't need to be modified, as it doesn't press into the quilt, but skims over it.  Day does a quick lesson on modifying your foot to raise it up a bit and stop it from bouncing and hitting your quilt if that's what it is doing.

6.  Starting quilting in the middle of the quilt. 

7.  Don't clip threads, bury those threads.  I do need these reminders not to be lazy about burying my threads. It really does help with the quilt's longevity.

8.  There's a lot of stopping and starting in free-motion quilting.  Day emphasizes the importance of stopping every time you need to move your hands. This has been a tricky one for me in the past when I've been doing larger designs, but I've been conscientious about it with this current project (which has a tighter design) and it has definitely increased my control.

Today is a day for free-motion quilting. (Backside) #vintagesheet #babylock #babylockjane

9.  Day's favorite gadgets.  Day really likes the Supreme Slider, Magic Washers, and Machingers.  I purchased a kit of these from her website at least a year ago.  The supreme slide didn't work so well on my last machine, I haven't tried it on the Jane.  My old Janome really liked the Magic Washer, I haven't tried it yet in the Jane.  I continue to love and use the Machingers (lightweight grippy gloves).

10.  Machines have personalities and preferences.  I really like how Day emphasizes that different machines will have different preferences on how they are used.  One think she covers in the Craftsy class, that is also something I have seen on her blog in in her YouTube videos, is that some machines would really rather you didn't drop the feed dogs for free-motion quilting.  My old machine definitely performed better with the feed dogs up and stitch length at zero than any other combination.  So far, the Baby Lock Jane seems to prefer that the feed dogs be lowered (but not all the way--there are multiple settings) and the stitch length set really low, but not quite to zero.

This quilt is eating all the time in the day and all the thread in the room. But it's cool! ��#emeraldandorchidquilt #quarteredlogcabin

11.  sidenote not from Day's class:  read the instructions for your machine and anywhere else you might have instructions:  I was having trouble with this quilt at first.  The thread was breaking.  Luckily, I was in a patient mood, so I did what I should: I rethreaded the machine.  I got out my instructions and looked at them to make sure I had threaded the machine correctly. I also moved up a needle size from an 80 to a 90.  The thread was still breaking.  I cleaned the machine.  I rethreaded the machine again, this time I checked and re-inserted the bobbin.   The thread was still breaking.  I finally noticed that my thread--it's a thicker variegated cotton from Sulky--said on it to use a top-stitch needle.  I followed the thread manufacturer's instructions and switched to that needle type.  PROBLEM SOLVED.  

There are a lot of variables involved in quilting, you've got to take control of as many of them as possible!   What's up with you all?  What are you learning these days?  Are you like me, occasionally running to your Pinterest board of Inspirational quotes so you can keep going?


*Amazon and Craftsy Links are affiliate links.  I have professional affiliations with Baby Lock, Sulky, and Aurifil.

Bonus tip: check out this Craftsy sale this weekend for cheap fat quarters of Kaffe's shot cottons and Cotton + Steel fabrics: