More hand sewing

Well, another step in my hand sewing progress. I didn’t ever think I’d start hand piecing in a non English paper piecing way and yet…here I am.

I’m making up some 4-patches with scrap fabric!

I’m trying to figure out what parts of sewing projects I want to take with me on vacation. These four patches are going to go into my version of the Oh My Gosh quilt. I didn’t buy the pattern but as a math person at heart, I knew it would be fairly easy to deconstruct the pattern from pictures I’d seen. I’m using 1.5″ square scraps for these.

Seeing the forest for the trees

Last month, I finally finished the Esmeralda Quilt! Looking through the pictures on my phone, I saw that I was working on this two years ago. Two!

I loved how the pattern of the pieces implies circles and yet, there’s only straight lines involved, no actual curves. I got my layer cakes and got started. As I worked along, I started to lose motivation.

First, as I was squaring the edges, I found that the pieces making up some of the edges were not even. If it was a smidge off, that’s fine. But there were a couple of blocks where there was more than a quarter inch difference. A quarter inch being my seam allowance, that meant I either had to keep trimming all the blocks down further or I couldn’t use that block. I ended up discarding that block. Thankfully, there were only a couple of blocks I had this happen on and I had extra fabric to make additional blocks.

Second, as I started sewing the blocks together into my first row, the corners were not quite matching up. I’ve mostly worked through my perfectionist tendencies but this bothered me. Can you see where the corners don’t quite match up in the picture?

Third, I was planning on doing a piano keys border and the thought of that, well, let’s say that I wasn’t looking forward to it.

And it could have been that I had been staring at this quilt for too long. Or it could have been all of the frustrations, but while I loved the fabric collection when I saw the layer cake, I was starting to dislike the fabric choice.

And so, the blocks all ended up in a bin until this year. Quarantine happened and I was going through my fabric stash and decided that regardless of my feelings about this quilt, I would ignore the imperfections of the blocks and start putting it together. I still wasn’t looking forward to the piano keys border. As the blocks turned into rows, magic happened! The little nit picky things like corners very obviously not matching became harder to see. I also decided against the piano keys. Instead, I was just going to sew some extra strips together, end to end to do a scrappy border.

The more the quilt top came together, the more I started to love this quilt. Even the colors were coming together! The actual quilting design was a big spiral and it went pretty quickly. I barely had enough fabric for the border. Confession time, because this project had been on pause, I was pretty sure I had bought fabric for the border but I couldn’t quite remember until I found it.

I love the finished quilt. It all really came together and I think I made the perfect choice on the border color. This is definitely one where I had to stop focusing on each piece of fabric and take a step back to see the whole picture, or quilt as it is.

Sewing Along

I haven’t added to this blog but I’ve definitely been sewing! My current project is the Esmeralda Quilt from the Moda Bakeshop. I love that from straight lines, you can have the illusion of curves!

I’ve been sewing along on my Juki. All I need is straight stitch. This was a project where I had the layer cake and needed a pattern and stumbled upon the pattern.

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The pattern is composed of two blocks as you can see in the picture. I’ve got the quarters of each square sewn up and am working on sewing together each block.

Penrose

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to Penrose tiles, a non-periodic tiling pattern, by a person of great significance in my life. The first time I saw it, I knew that one day, I would have a version of it in quilt form. At the time, he had been writing some code to generate a picture of the Penrose tiles and that was the picture I saw. The tiling and the colors he used were my original inspiration.

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A quick search of the internet found very few quilts made using Penrose. With the number of adjoining corners, I knew I was going to have to do this by way of English paper piecing. For the templates, these are not your standard angled rhombus shapes so I had to cut my own. I was able to get the code from my original inspiration and after some tinkering, I printed out my pattern pieces in a size I wanted.

For the fabric, I’ve bought a lot of fabric trying to find something that would work. I am currently on my third set of fabric.

In the first iteration, I had run into the quilt shop and ran out with 2 blue and 2 yellow fabrics. They were mostly solids. Once I started sewing, I could see immediately that they did not sit well together and the contrast between shades was too abrupt and harsh. I had this feeling when I was picking them out but I decided to go ahead with it anyways.

In the second iteration, I spent a little more time at the quilt shop and came away with 4 blue prints and 4 yellow prints. I still wasn’t sure but again, I went ahead with it. After I began sewing, problems I noticed included, again, fabric differences were abrupt and harsh when placed next to each other in this tiling pattern, and the actual patterning on the fabric was distracting and not appropriate for the tiles.

Last weekend, I went to a different quilt shop because I needed to get out of the house and go somewhere. I had been thinking about Penrose again and thought about using some batiks. Batik fabrics, because of being dyed rather than printed, can have various shades on a single piece of fabric so I thought this would be interesting to try. Also, instead of those half sized blue tiles that the image has, there’s more flexibility in fabric color so I decided I would stick with the whole blue and yellow pieces. This would also cut down on the bulk at the sharp corners where the pieces joined, another problem I ran into on the previous iterations.

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I started with the bolt in the middle with the blue background and the yellow flower/leaf motif. Those were the two shades I wanted to use. From there, I tried to stick with blues and yellows still within range of that bolt but making sure it varied slightly both on the lighter and darker side. There’s more blues than yellows in the pattern so I have more blue fabric.

As I was walking around the quilt store, I realized that batiks was a very good choice for the shades of blue and yellow I wanted because I could only find the shades in the batiks. When I walked through the print section, the color was either too dark or too light and overall not what I wanted. (Also, without a car, getting to a quilt shop is difficult so I was going to make/buy the most of it)

After getting home, I got down to work. I was very happy with the beginning and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s all I want to do these days! Similar to knitting, once I find a pattern I like and materials I enjoy working with, the motivation is there in large quantities.

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When I first started on this project a couple of years ago, I wanted to make a quilt. After the first two iterations and my frustrations with it, I lowered expectations to an 18″ x 18″ pillow. Now, with these fabrics, I’m back to the quilt. I have the idea drawn out and I plan on going back to get more fabric to make sure that I have enough.

Hand piecing a large portion of a queen sized quilt is going to take some time but I am going to enjoy the process the entire way!

Progressing on the quilt

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When I bought my new Juki TL2010Q, I was concerned about whether or not a king size quilt can fit comfortable in it. Well, I’ve gotten started on my quilting and yes, it can! As with most home machines, you’re limited in how much room you have to move that quilt around.

What I found worked best was to sew in a small area and making sure to keep the quilt supported. King size quilts are HEAVY! I’m very happy with the quilting for now. I’m getting ready to switch designs and maybe add some wavy swirls and trying to figure out how much movement that involves.

The Juki is definitely easier to quilt on than my old Singer since it has the extended table and a larger throat. It certainly doesn’t beat a long arm or even a mid arm but for an affordable at home machine that doesn’t take up a whole room, I’m very happy with it. I’ll just keep quilting along!

Board basting

I woke up yesterday morning and watched the Royal Wedding while getting started on sandwiching a king sized quilt. I’m working on a king size quilt as a wedding present and since I embarked on this project, I had been trying to figure out how to best sandwich this. I live in an apartment in the middle of the city and there just isn’t enough space.

Then I read about board basting where you smooth and roll your backing onto a base board and you smooth and roll your quilt top onto another base board. You still need a long flat space but at least you don’t need a flat space the full size of the quilt.

The backing goes down first and I left about 18 inches to 2 ft of it unrolled and smooth out on the floor. Then, I laid down the batting. Finally, I placed the quilt top down. Then, as I smooth everything down, I safety pinned it all in place.

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I had to do a little bit at a time since opening and closing the safety pins made my hands really sore. Plus, it’s a bit of a work out as you crawl around trying to pin and then having to unroll and smooth. I even went grocery shopping half way through! I was finished by the afternoon and I’m really excited. Time to quilt!

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