Picnic Tea Party top finished

I finished the quilt top yesterday and it’s ADORABLE!  Perfect size for a picnic blanket.  I’ll be using a polyester batting to keep it lightweight and also fluffy.  Great for using like a regular blanket without getting too hot.

I used different FQ collections by Free Spirit as well as one solid.  They all look so well together I knew they had to be in a single quilt. There are 25 White House Steps Blocks, 12″ x 12″.  The pattern is from McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts 2012 ebook.

The backing is a batik in various shades of grass green with a fern print all over it, and the binding will be a solid brown.

I’m really proud of the results because it shows how much I’ve improved.  All the corners meet perfectly!  I pressed the seams open on the blocks, but pressed to one side when connecting the blocks and rows.

My husband is mildly terrified of all the prints, but the quilt isn’t for him.  I’ll be selling it on my Etsy shop when it’s done.

I also basted I Dream of Elephants yesterday and have started on the hand-quilting.  I won’t have it done by laundry day this week, but it’ll definitely be finished next week.  I’ll then immediately start on Picnic Tea Party.  This one shouldn’t take nearly as long because I’ll just be following the lines of each block for the quilting.

If I had the money I’d take this to a long-arm quilter or a quilting shop to have it done by machine.  Save me some time so I can move on to the next project.  Alas, I shall have to hand-quilt it instead.  I have a dark bright variegated thread for this, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results.

As for my next project, it’s a Star Wars quilt.  My dream is to have Mark Hamill purchase it.  For those uneducated in Star Wars, he plays Luke Skywalker.  He’s also the voice actor for the Joker in various Batman games and cartoon series.  Oh, and he was the kidnapped professor in Kingsmen.

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Binding Tutorial

My mother just put this AMAZING binding tutorial together for me.  Every binding tutorial I’ve found has been a bit fussy with my machine, and they’re really confusing for some folks.  Hopefully this helps you out.  It has certainly helped me!  Far simpler and less fussy than mitered binding.

Binding Tutorial From Mom

I’ve placed captions on the images so you can see what’s going on in each of them.  Hopefully the PDF file will download for you, but if not the captions should certainly help.

If you’re a little confused, she makes one long strip, sews to one side of the quilt, cuts, sews the parallel side, cuts, and does it again for the other two sides with an extra inch added to the ends.  It’s much easier than the mitered binding with its corners you have to fold twice, creating layers your machine might not appreciate.  I know my machine, which is AWESOME, doesn’t like mitered corners at all.

I recommend you use a thread conditioner for the hand-sewing.  It makes a big difference, and works better than wax.  You can usually find it in the thread aisle or near the cutting table at the fabric store.  For the hand-sewing/hand-quilting I never use thread longer than 18 inches.  The longer the thread the more likely it is to tangle.

Do you use a binding style or technique that differs from the more traditional methods?  Any tips you want to add?  Leave a comment!  If you have any questions feel free to ask.  If I don’t have an answer I’ll call my mom.

Baby Quilt and Haircut

I finished the baby quilt commission!  Well, I finished in last weekend, but it didn’t go through the wash until today.  A quilt is finished only after it’s been washed.  That’s when the details of the stitching show up!

The person who commissioned me LOVES it!  WOOT!  It’s 30 inches x 22 inches.  She wanted it small and gender neutral, and I think the results are beautiful.  The backing is a dark purple with light purple roses throughout.

It’s 6″ cut squares sewn in seven rows of five, a little less than half a yard for the backing, and I think about a quarter of a yard for the binding.  It’s really very simple, a great starter quilt, and excellent for scraps.

Also, I had my hair trimmed today.  The top is braided, the rest left loose.  Oh, and yes, that’s my itty bitty sewing room.

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Jasper approves of my haircut.  I had to sort of shove him away when he started licking the sides of my head.  He seems to enjoy the texture.

Raggedy Ann and Andy finished!

I have finally finished the quilt!  Cut, pieced, sewn, quilted, bound, and washed.  I’m so proud of myself!  This thing is so light and soft, and just downright adorable.  The Raggedy Ann and Andy print is 30+ years old, meaning gentle love and washing.  That may account for why it’s so incredibly soft though.

The process of making this was a great learning experience.  I figure out what techniques work best for me, how to measure properly, match corners, and what size of quilt my machine can handle.  I moved my sewing machine to my cutting table to make it easier, but it wasn’t enough.  I’ll machine quilt smaller items, but after this I’ll hand-quilt everything else.  Sure, more time and work, but less arguing and frustration for me.

Now here’s to hoping it sells soon!  You can check out details about the quilt, as well as the price, here on it’s listing at my Etsy shop.  I do ship internationally!

As for the pattern, I found it online with only descriptions.  No measurement of how much fabric would be needed, or a finished size.  Here are the details I figured out on my own.

It’s eight rows of eight squares, each square cut to 8 inches.  When sewn the squares come to 7.5 inches each.

Now I’m sort of guessing here, but the red and yellow combined are one yard.  The muslin is also one yard, which brings the print to I think one yard.  I always go with “better to have too much than not enough”.  The backing is 1.5 yards.  I purchased one yard of fabric for the binding and cut it into strips two inches wide and WOF (width of fabric) which was about 42 inches.

When I went to the fabric store and had it measured they told me I would need only 1.25 yards of fabric for the backing.  Turns out they were wrong.  I had to cut a good portion of two sides down in order to match the sizes.  That was a little disappointing, but I learned from it.

I’ll use a similar pattern next time I decide to make something this simple.  Instead of 8 inch squares I’ll instead go with 6 inch squares.  It’ll bring the size down considerably, but that will also make it significantly easier to quilt on my machine.  With the change it’ll also be less expensive for a potential buyer.

Seeing as I have finally finished this I can now work on Joanna’s quilt.  I didn’t like how it was turning out and have instead turned to using a pattern I found in a quilting book.  It’s a beginner pattern, simple, and with the fabric choices (same fabrics as before) it will look glorious!  The bit I did work on, before I improved so much with the baby quilt, will be turned into pillows, place mats or some other household items that will make this a complete set.  Nothing will be wasted.  Plus, after this is finished, I’ll have extra fabric leftover that isn’t used as well as a bunch of scraps for a future project.

Last, but not least, I now have a printer!  We’ve been without a printer for a couple years now.  Our old one broke in the summer of 2014, and getting it repaired ($150) would be more expensive than buying a new one ($100).  I printed out a lot of quilting patterns I’ve had saved on my computer, which now makes it so much easier to follow a pattern instead of running back and forth between my computer (located in my living room) and my sewing room.

Raggedy Ann and Andy Baby Quilt

I finished cutting all 64 pieces yesterday.  I didn’t have enough of the right blue or green so I went with red and yellow.  White fabric looked very off when set next to the print.  Instead I decided to use a creamy muslin.

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The print was originally a set of curtains I’ve had since I was an infant, making them over 30 years old.  By today’s standards they’d be considered vintage or antique.  I didn’t want to donate them, so instead I opted to give them new life.

For me these colors are rather boring, but I know someone, somewhere, will love this.

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I was squealing so much when I saw the corners meeting properly.  I’ve been trying to get this down for awhile now, and nothing was working.  After looking through the quilting books my mother gave me I decided to change my pressing technique.  IT WORKED!

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Seams are commonly pressed in one direction for one row, and the opposite direction for the other row.  I know that works great for a lot of people, and it’s the most commonly used technique, but it wasn’t working for me.  Splitting and pressing the seams works much better for me.  I’ve been far more successful at bringing corners together.  Only a small number were a little off, but only by about 1/8″ inch and only noticeable if you look for them.

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Here’s a closeup of what I’m talking about.  The red is pressed towards the red, muslin pressed towards muslin, and print pressed against print.  It was more difficult pressing the seams, but worth the extra work.  I also had to keep an eye on the side of the fabric touching the machine when sewing the rows together.  That makes things take a little longer, but I work quickly and it wasn’t a big deal for me.

The sewing and pressing took a total of three hours.  Not bad for a beginner!

The pattern is as follows:

Cut 64 6″x6″ squares of at least two colors, so 32 of one color and 32 of the other.  That’s roughly half a yard of each fabric.  In my case it was half a yard of the print, a fat quarter of red, and a fat quarter of yellow.

Sewing the rows together in eight squares x eight squares.  REMEMBER TO PRESS YOUR SEAMS!!!  After sewing a row go press your seams.  After sewing a row to another go press the seam.  It can be tedious but it is absolutely necessary.

I use a 1/4″ foot, which is really a time saver.  Every quilter should have one.  Nearly every pattern calls for a 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

This weekend I’ll be purchasing the three Bs: batting, backing, and binding fabric.

I don’t purchase bias for the binding.  Instead I purchase a fabric I like and cut it into strips.  Sometimes jelly rolls have just what you’re looking for and it’s already cut for you.  Make sure you have enough to go all around your quilt.  The way I do it is I add the length of all the sides together and then add an additional 18 inches.  It’s better to have too much than not enough.  There’s other methods for figuring out what you need, but this works well enough for me.

For this quilt it’s 40″ on all sides.  I’ll purchase just a yard and a half of fabric, cut it into strips, sew the strips together, and voila!  I have my binding.  Plus there’s the extra fabric for a future project!

Seeing as I got all the corners nice and neat I’ll be using the stitch-in-ditch quilting method with my machine.  I really want to play with the decorative seams on my machine, and this may be just the right opportunity to do that.  I’ll likely use a blue or a green thread to bring more visual interest to this.