Monday, April 25, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting - A Book Review

Hey Quilty Friends! If you don't already have the latest and greatest machine quilting book, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting co-authored by Angela Walters and Christa Watson, please stop reading right now and go get it! Okay, maybe finish reading this post first. :)

Seriously, this book is amazing from start to finish. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased and honest opinion and it truly is a wonderful resource for any quilter. The reason I started quilting back in 2012 is because I wanted to learn how to do the beautiful designs I saw on finished quilt tops. My husband got me my first really good machine that Christmas - I jumped right in to free motion quilting and I've never looked back.

While I've only quilted on my sit down domestic machine, I have a burning curiosity and desire to learn how to long arm quilt. One of my favorite features of this book is that it approaches machine quilting from both techniques. The pages are color coded and both quilters guide you through step-by step on how to achieve a specific design or motif.

There are 10 full color patterns used in the book and the photos are just stunning. The clarity and quilting details are so helpful. (Kudos to photographer Brent Kane and Martingdale for such beautiful photos!)

If you are strictly just a sit down or long arm quilter and are worried that half of the book won't pertain to you, think again. Much of the advice and tips from both Angela and Christa can be applied to developing your own skills regardless of your preferred method of quilting. Here is my own example: while I am pretty good at some of the more difficult motifs, like feathers, I have had a mental block when it came to ribbon candy. I could never seem to get the design to look uniform. Here is the advice that Angela gives on how to master it:

 After reading it, something clicked in my brain. I always tried to make the lines touch but never overlapped them. Just that slight adjustment of allowing the lines to overlap a bit made all the difference to me and before you know it, I was quilting ribbon candy! And as you can see, I didn't even need to overlap anymore. I call this a great success!

So there you have it. If you're a seasoned quilter or just starting out, I recommend that you check out this book and take the leap into quilting your own tops. You won't regret it. You can find it at your local bookstore or any of these online retailers:  Christa's shop, Angela's shop, Martingale, or Amazon.

Okay, it's time for me to get back to quilting some of the new techniques that I've read about!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Living Room Makeover

I'm happy to say that our living room makeover is just about complete. Yes, I still want to get a new side chair but as far as textiles go, it's done. First there were the curtains and the pelmet boxes. Then there was my Turquoise Facets quilt. And now the pillows are finished.

The front ones were made from my Spanish Tiles test blocks. The back ones were older pillows that I re-stuffed to make fuller.  Here is what my couch looks like with the pillows and quilt. I couldn't be happier and I smile every time I see everything.

The pillows were my One Monthly Goal for April and was also on my 2nd Quarter list of projects to finish.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Stash Bee Round-up

It's already April and I realized that I've not shown any of the blocks that I've made for Hive 3 in Stash Bee this year!  Here are the blocks that I've made thus far:

February blocks for Shari:

March blocks for Bonnie:

April block for Shauna:

I get so many great ideas for future quilts being a part of Stash Bee. So many quilts, so little time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Finish Along - 2nd Quarter Project List

Rhonda's [Quilt] Ramblings

It's hard to believe that we're already 4 months into the year already and it's time for me to write down my list of projects that I want to tackle for this next quarter as part of the Finish Along Project. I did a commendable job last quarter finishing up 4 of the 8 projects that I listed. I didn't expect to finish all 8 projects, that's just crazy talk, but it's always better to have a bigger list than to run out of projects. Given some of my newer commitments, some of the projects that were on the Q1 list have been taken off for this quarter.  Here's what I hope to accomplish:

1.  Wedding Table Runner 
My cousin is getting married and has selected Fiesta dinnerware for her kitchen so I want to make her a coordinating table runner using these fabrics. I'm not sure that the green is the right shade, so I might be swapping it out if I can find a better shade.

2. Quilt Mini for the Vegas Meets Orlando
This is my first mini swap ever (shocking, I know!) and I'm really excited. I know that I want to use this paper piecing pattern for the center focal point. The main fabrics that I've selected are these:

3. Pillows
I blogged about these earlier. Both of these blocks were made to test my Spanish Tiles block pattern. I want to make these into pillows to coordinate with my newly finished Turquoise Facets quilt.

4. Teacher Gift Basket 
This was on the Q1 list but I never got around to it. Since school will finish up in June, this is a must finish item.  Here are the fabrics that I'll use and this is my go-to basket pattern.

5. Mini Cathedral Wall Hanging
I need to test out a cathedral window shortcut pattern using 3.5" blocks before I make a bed runner for my parents' wedding gift. This mini will be using these fabrics that I've already cut out, plus a few more.

I'm pretty confident that I can complete this entire list this quarter so now it's time to get to it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

School Progress Report

It's been several months since I started working with the 5th graders at my son's elementary school on a year-long quilting project to make a wall hanging.  It's been a slow process since there are 5 classes, each with approximately 22 students each. Here is the basic teaching outline that I've followed --
  1. Basic sewing safety and how to use the sewing machine
  2. Sewing practice using ruler lined paper
  3. Properties of fabric
  4. Sewing practice using fabric scraps
  5. Learning how to pin and pinning our first squares
  6. How to get a 1/4 seam and sewing our first squares
  7. Iron safety, pressing, and pressing our first squares
Once we covered all of those topics, we've just been plugging away at sewing squares, pressing them, pinning them to the next group of squares, and repeating. Because of student confidentiality, I can't share any in-class photos with you but they are very excited to have the top completely done!

Do the points and seams all match up? No. Is the stitching always straight? No. But are the kids excited about sewing and having a blast? Absolutely! And that is what is important. Over the next few weeks there won't be any sewing because of state-wide standardized testing so next up will be to create the quilt sandwich, appliquéing the letters, and quilting it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Spring Break Project

Spring break was low key in our household this year, with no real set plans. Lunch at a playground, a trip to the library, things like that. My goal was to finish up one of my quilts so whenever I had a spare moment, I'd spend it in my sewing room. You can imagine my delight when my 6 year old asked to make a quilt block to put up in his room.

We wasted no time and I gave him my bin of scrap strips and told him to pick out some fabrics that he liked. At first he was planning on a red and blue color scheme but before you know it, some bright yellow and an autumn print had been added to the mix. I had him stitch a few of the strips together and then he took it from there, wanting to cut it in half and then restitch it together. I did all of the cutting/trimming but he did all of the sewing.

Because he was too short to reach my foot pedal he used the start/stop button feature on Pearl, my portable Brother machine. By the time he was finished, he was sewing a pretty accurate quarter inch seam.  At one point he was stitching away on his project while I was quilting on Ruby, my Baby Lock Symphony, and he just thought that was cool.

When it came to quilting it, he wanted to try out some of the decorative stitches. I've only had Pearl for a few months and have never tried out any of the decorative stitches but it was very apparent after he tried out 2 of them that I need to calibrate my machine so that the designs come out right. But he didn't care that they didn't look the same as the picture, he was just happy to decorate it.

Once he decided that it was done, I trimmed it down for him and he picked out the binding fabric. The binding was the only portion that I sewed for him and once it was finished, he was very excited to hang it up above his bed.

If he decides he wants to continue making little projects like this, I'm happy to encourage it. Who knows, maybe once he's a bit older we can work together on a full size quilt for his bed. I think that would be cool. :)

Sunday, April 03, 2016

One Monthly Goal - April

I have to say that I'm really surprised at how having these monthly link party goals help me to stay on track with some of my projects. So far, I've done what I set out to do for each month. Let's see if I can continue the trend!

For April I would like to transform these 2 blocks into pillows for our living room.

You might recognize the pattern as my recent Spanish Tiles block that I designed for the Paintbrush Studio block hop. These were my 2 test blocks.  To make them pillow size I added a border all the way around. I've not sewn much with zippers but I'm planning on making them removable for easy washing. With a 6 year old in the house, I have to be practical.