Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AMH Voile Quilt Top - Postcard Edition

I say this^^^ only because I still have enough voile to (hopefully) make a baby quilt top. Score!

Last summer I splurged on bought a beautiful stack of Anna Maria Horner voile fat quarters from Westwood Acres (Amanda still has a stack of Field Study voile - you'd better buy them before I cave!). And as I said earlier this week, they've been forming into an all-voile quilt in the back of my mind for a while. I wanted to choose a design that didn't involve bias seams because voile is a tricky (though lovely) substance. This quilt top was thus made as part of the Postcard Quilt-A-Long at A Quilter's Table! Debbie wrote a thorough and easy tutorial if you want to try it out! I decided to switch the colors of the strips for every two columns - I really like the visual interest this adds.

You guys know Anna Maria Horner is my quilting idol, right?? And yes, I *did* fussy cut that rose!

 Also, during this process (which took most of the week so far, due to constantly adjusting and then petting said voile in appreciation), I realized I just didn't care if *all* my points match up (they don't). This quilt is for me and my family and oh well! Take that to any quilt police who might be patrolling!

Three questions:
1) How should I quilt it? I really think straight lines... but any suggestions for something creative (but simple since voile is slippery)? I'm definitely going to use my walking foot.

2) Any batting suggestions? Like, should I use my regular Hobbs Heirloom, or does it matter?

3) Anyone tried binding a quilt in voile? Any feedback?

A couple of windy day pics:

Getting there...

Maybe not. :) My sister knew she was in trouble when I arrived with a quilt top in tow.

Linking up to TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts

Monday, July 28, 2014

Orange Peel QAL: Midway Linky Party

Hi all! So we can all see how we're getting on (and cheer each other on!) please link up your most recent in-progress (or finished?) Orange Peel QAL project! You can either link to a blog post or a Flickr photo (you do not have to write an all-new blog post unless you want to!). The final link-up will open on August 23, so there's plenty of time to finish your project or start one altogether! Click here to see the guidelines and prizes.

I can't enter the contest but I've linked up my finished baby quilt to start the party off!

YOU ARE HERE -->July 28 - August 4: Mid-way check in linky party
August 11: Other quilting ideas for orange peels
August 23 - September 8: Final Link-up!
September 9 -September 16: Voting for Viewer's Choice prize

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Stash

I'm oozing with excitement over these recent additions to my stash!

Cotton and Steel!! Fabricworm sponsored "My Favorite Quilt," the series I recently curated over at Sew Mama Sew, so I was able to pick out some fabrics I love.  Thank you so much, Fabricworm!

 I had trouble narrowing down which basics I wanted (I really want them all and I really want half yards because FQs just aren't enough anymore) but picking out my favorite prints was easy. Overall, I tried to fill in some gaps in my stash (magenta pick, red, coral, green). Can you tell I love blue and Rashida Coleman-Hale's fabrics? :) I clearly couldn't limit myself and had to buy some half yards of Indelible by Katarina Roccella, too. All the fabric I used for Point Me is already gone! :O

Now the Cotton and Steel fabrics are calling to me to make something... maybe a new triangle pillow for my reading nook. Hmm. Also, I've had my eye on that jewel lawn (also from Moonlit by Rashida Coleman-Hale) for literally months, and actually holding it in my hands was a bit surreal (obsessed much?). I want to make a washi top out of it! Speaking of garment sewing...

I also ordered several yards of Pretty Potent and Field Study rayon from QuiltHome for future additions to my wardrobe. Now if I could only decide on a pattern! I know the Pretty Potent will probably be a Cascade skirt, and the Field Study (which I only have 1.5 yards of - all they had left)... well, maybe I can squeeze out another washi top. I've also never made a washi top. Maybe I'm a bit overconfident. :D

Have you been stashing, too?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A new project (*sly smile*)

As usual, I have other commitments and WIPs to finish. But summer is flying fast, and LAST summer I promised I'd make an all-voile quilt, and it just has to happen. These voile fat quarters from Westwood Acres have been sitting in my stash for far too long :(. I keep thinking about how nice it will be to take the occasional nap/watch an hour of Game of Thrones under a light and airy quilt, and how this one will be sure to stick around my apartment-one-day-house for years. Maybe one of our future kids will claim it and I'll steal it back from them repeatedly. If anything, these constant thoughts were a sign to start.

Also, I've finished up so many WIPs this month (3 QUILTS!!) that I felt the itch to start something brand. spanking. new.

I chose to follow Debbie's Postcard Quilt tutorial. Simple, beautiful, and striking. My quilty math was successful and I was able to enlarge the blocks from 4" x 6" to 7" x 10." Anna Maria Horner's prints are meant to be showcased in all their glory!

I made Mike touch the voile and I said, "see, like butter!" and he goes, "not quite." LOL. It really is amazingly soft though! Anyway, I've scoured the internet and here are the basics you need to know about sewing with voiles:

1. Use a ballpoint needle. If that doesn't work, try a universal needle. It depends on the machine and the voile you are using. I'm sewing together high-quality amazing Anna Maria Horner voiles and I'm using a ballpoint needle with no problems at all (thank goodness!).

2. PREWASH and lightly press (with a cloth, if you wish, and on a low temp - lower than what you use for cotton) before you cut. I never ever prewash cotton fabrics but I do for voile and any fabrics I use for garments (HA, if I ever finish one). You don't want your voile to shrink after it's been sewn together. I found that about an inch was lost on each fat quarter after prewashing, but it's no big deal.

3. Sew with good quality thread - if you are spending this much on high quality/specialty fabric, why not take the same care with your thread? I use Aurifil for all my piecing and quilting now, unless I need to dig into my Connecting Threads stash for a specific color. My machine loves Aurifil the most!

4. Change your rotary blade (you'll thank me later) and cut SLOWLY. Voile is slippery but you'll get the hang of it!

Anna Maria Horner has a GREAT, detailed post about voile that you should read, too, if you are going to sew with voile.

The prettiest laundry basket in all the land!

I'm pretty sure I won't be able to free motion these voiles (though I imagine the drag would be minimal) - plus, I want to be able to feel the texture throughout, so there's no point in dense quilting. I haven't decided how I'll quilt with my walking foot yet.

I planned on taking my time on this project but half the quilt top is done already... :) Tomorrow night, I'll have a big Sunday Stash post up!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Scatter": A Finished Orange Peel Quilt

*I'm linking this finish up to the Finish Along at The Littlest Thistle. You can see my original FAL Quarter 3 list here!*

My orange peel quilt is done! I can't promise it's not my last project for the Orange Peel QAL, but it's definitely the largest one (44" x 55")! And guess what - registration and the details for my Orange Peels and Improv class (Oct. 6 and 20 at Pennington Quilt Works, Pennington, NJ) are available on the Pennington Quilt Works website and my Classes tab! Woohoo! I'm seriously just brimming with excitement!

I started out making orange peels because Ashley's progressive quilt needed some (I don't remember the initial inspiration though) and because Anna Maria Horner's new Pretty Potent fabric was practically screaming from inside my quilting closet to be made into something pretty. Also, one of our CJMQG challenges for August/September is to make something out of our swapped low volume fabrics. The two just meshed together until I couldn't take it and I had to start a quilt. And the QAL was born! I'm a sucker for a new-to-me sewing skill and the ability to share it with others through this blog is just the icing on the cake. :)

I sketched the quilt out in my notebook, and only when I experimented with a rainbow pattern radiating from the inside did I commit to a design. Rainbow all day everyday. When in doubt, go rainbow. So I've learned.

Using the "stitch and flip method" (tutorial by Emily Herrick, and additions and tips here), I became addicted to the process of making orange peel blocks.

 I made the blocks first, laid them out and created six improv "sections" of low volume scraps, which would later be completely pieced together. At first, I was only going to use white and neutral fabrics but I grabbed a scrap of gray, cut it up, and watched how it added another layer of interest to my quilt! If you take the class with me, you'll practice improv piecing large pieces and I'll give a bunch of tips for working in this manner. :)

I top-stitched the orange peels before I started full on quilting (read: I did not quilt over the actual orange peels, just around them, because I really wanted them to stand out!). Ashley recently showed us how cool your machine can make applique and top-stitching - I wish I had read her post at that time! :P Anyway, I like the simplicity of the straight stitch because there's a lot going on already anyway.

There's only one "full" orange peel "blossom" on the quilt - in the bottom right corner:

I don't think I've ever backed and bound a quilt in the same fabric, but man, Anna Maria Horner's Dowry Postage Due fabric just *does it* for this quilt! I couldn't help myself.

The quilting was I made a list of a bunch of free motion motifs I love (pebbling, swirls, loops, rainbows, flowers) and gradually switched into different designs as I moved across the quilt.

This baby quilt was intended for a baby girl, but I'll have to make a different quilt, because this one will be hanging in Pennington Quilt Works as of today!

 Let's take more pictures WITH our quilts, people! :D They are so important to us!

Pop back on Monday to link up your midway Orange Peel QAL progress! Just about one month to go before the final linky party. Wow!

Linking up to: Free Motion Mavericks, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilting Infatuation, I Quilt @ Pretty Bobbins

This is also my big monthly finish so I'm linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thoughts about Quilt Auctions

A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Kutztown Folk Festival in Kutztown, PA with my family. I only live an hour away from the festival, and quilts are a huge part of it, so I really wanted to go. I went once as a kid and definitely didn't appreciate it as much (though I've always enjoyed the craft stands). Quilts are so important at the festival that the map just says "Quilts!" where they are sold! :)

Anyway, I was really excited to go on Saturday because that was the day of the quilt auction. I'd never seen an auction in person before, let alone a quilt auction. The pavilion was packed, as you can see - and this doesn't count the people watching in the back and on the sides!. Many of the quilts were traditional - by my definition, symmetrical, intricately quilted, Civil War fabrics, etc. Many are made by local Mennonite quilters. Three of the quilts were more modern to me because they made use of solids - and one even had wonky stars! The one in the above picture had a really modern layout! The quilts were all stunning even from far away; you could see the care and expertise of the sewists. Most of the 29 quilts for auction were hand-quilted, too.

It was absolutely thrilling to see the auction take place! One quilt started at $2000 but quickly went down to $1260 when no one took the bid. Then, it kept climbing up and eventually, it sold at $5500! According to the presenter, that particular quilter (no names were announced, which I thought strange and a bit unfortunate) holds the record for the highest bid at the festival ($15,000!).

Above - my brother and I, and below, my mom and dad. We could see the auction from the food tent across the way.

This whole experience made me wonder about the future of quilting and modern quilters. My brother kept encouraging me to submit quilts to be judged for next year (awww!!) but I honestly don't think I would fit in AT ALL into what the judges are looking for. I'm also very uneducated about the whole show process. I heard the presenter comment about how "the points would have to be perfect or the whole quilt would not work." Maybe for a traditional pattern, but for a wonky or improv quilt - how could they judge those in comparison? Is there even a place where modern quilts could be auctioned and appreciated for what they are (besides QuiltCon)? After all, many of us make them in order to be used. Just some food for thought/questions in my head... what do you think?

There were also hundreds of quilts for sale in the barn. I especially loved seeing the double wedding ring quilts in nearly every color. I spotted a couple of quilts that made use of bright solids and even one using Terrain by Kate Spain!

My brother loved the top star quilt! It was auctioned off but I didn't see the auction.


Finally, there was a Visitor Quilt tent, where you had to hand quilt in order to write your name on the quilt. They had quilts hanging there from the festivals since 1996! All the quilts were bright and included lots of solids (LOVE). The lady who showed me where to hand quilt and I talked about the festival and her own projects. I was pretty proud of my stitches! My mom did some, too. :)

Altogether, it was a really enjoyable day, and I know I'll be back to see the quilt auction again!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Orange Peel QAL: Applique Stitches with Ashley of Wasn't Quilt in a Day

Welcome to the fourth post of the Orange Peel Quilt-A-Long! The final linky party doesn't start until August 23, so you have plenty of time to try orange peels out and whip something up! See here for everything about the QAL, including the three categories, recently announced prizes, and Viewer's Choice contest.

Pinterest Inspiration Board - in case you need some inspiration. I will keep adding to it throughout the QAL!
Please share this button on your blog if you are participating!
 Thank you so much to the wonderful QAL prize sponsors!  Quilting Fabrics from 1 Choice 4 Quilting
Quilting Fabrics from 1 Choice 4 QuiltingQuilting Fabrics from 1 Choice 4 Quilting
Quilting Fabrics from 1 Choice 4 Quilting 
The only rules are:
  •  Orange peels of any kind must be a main design element of your project. 
    • This will be taken into account during judging. 
  • You may link up one entry per category (via blog or Flickr). Please include dimensions when you post!
    • The three categories are quilt, "just the top," and mini - see the official page for details.
  • Your project(s) must be made in 2014.
  •  Have fun!
Share your photos and thoughts!
  • #orangepeelqal on Instagram - share your design, progress, and finish photos - this feed is so fun to scroll through!
  •  Flickr Group - share your design, progress, and finish photos. Also, chat with other participants - conversations are developing in the "discussions" bar about which method you are using and what your design ideas are!

Today we have a guest post by one of my quilting besties. I'm lucky enough to live in the same state as her, which means there are many years of quilty get-togethers ahead! If you haven't seen her blog, you really should. I'm not just being biased - her writing style is so entertaining and the stuff she churns out is stunning. Today, she has some great pictures and suggestions for ways you can add a little "umph" to your applique. Also, if you are using the stitch and flip method, you'll find some great ways to tack down your peels... without further ado... here's Ashley of Wasn't Quilt in a Day!

Hi there, Orange Peel-alongers!  Thanks for letting me stop by and share some applique stitches with you today.  A few months ago, Jess and I met up to trade our Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilt tops, and spent a few hours talking fabric (duh!).  We also spent a lot of time talking Orange Peels because she and I are collaborating on a border of them on my quilt top, and she was in the beginning stages of planning the QAL.  While eating cheesecake, I also suggested that I'd love to do a guest post if she needed one.  I don't know if she so much as needed one, but she allowed me to butt in and talk about applique stitches.  I'm excited to share a few ideas today, because to be honest, this step, the applique stitches, were what kept me away from appliqued quilts for so long.  Not anymore!

First things first, once you've gotten to this stage you've already decided how to put your orange peel on your background fabric: stitch and flip, just interfacing, raw-edge, etc.  So keep that in mind when choosing an applique stitch.  If it's raw edge, it will need more support, but if the edge is reinforced you can have more fun.  Of course, I am making a pillow for my sampler, so I didn't mind not reinforcing my edges.  I like the live on the edge. (No pun intended...)

If you want to give hand-appliqued stitches a try go grab some embroidery tread,  a needle, and this tutorial, and get to stitching.  Your stitches will look something like these two projects.  I can thank my mother  for  these two photos, because she taught me the blanket stitch on the butterflies and she made the adorable pillow.

photo 1

photo 2

But, here's where I get real with you.  Hand applique is fun.  I like it, I really do.  But I also like instant gratification, so for my sampler today I'm bringing out the big guns and doing only machine applique.  Call me lazy, if you want to, but you might thank me later when you have time to make it to the gym... like I'm trying to today.

Step One: start by pulling your bobbin thread UP so you don't get a nasty bird's next on the back of your quilt.  (Or be a rebel, and enjoy that bird's nest.  I rock it in my hair everyday, so more power to ya!)

photo 1 (2)

And, make sure you don't start on the point of your orange peel.  Whew.  That bunches up quickly.

photo 2 (2)

I started and ended all of mine with a lock stitch about an inch away from the point of each peel.  It worked out really well.

Now that you've pulled your bobbin thread up, and locked your stitch in place, let's get started.  When it comes to applique stitches, I think the best rule of thumb is: test it out.

No, really.  I don't think you heard me.  Test it out.  Or you'll be like me and ripping stitches out, and nobody has time for that.

Get out a piece of white scrap fabric (I would suggest a 10x10 inch piece... so that's really not a scrap, but whatever) and start testing.  Use a fine tip Sharpie marker to mark the widths and lengths you used as you test each stitch and be sure to write down your stitch number for your machine.  That way, you can get a feel for the stitch before putting it on your design.  For the purposes of today, I just took photos of the  stitches next to my sewing machine's computer screen, but I'm also going to use  this project as an applique stitch calling card.  Multi-tasking here, folks.

The other purpose of testing out your stitches is that you can get a feel of where and how the needle swings.  You’ll want most of whichever stitch you choose to be  on the orange peel itself.  That means that the RIGHT swing of your needle should JUST punch your background fabric, and the LEFT swing of your needle should go into your orange peel.  Look closely at these two photos -
The right swing is going into my background fabric, but it's riiiiiight on the edge.

photo 3

The left swing of my needle goes into the applique shape, locking it down.

photo 4

Now that you've got those basic rules down, let's move onto the stitches.

Here's what I started with:

A rainbow of AMH orange peels, each begging for their own applique treatment.  I feel ya, girls.
I've already used the blanket stitch and a zig-zag on plenty of projects, so today I want to encourage you to test some new stitches.  Really, why else do we have hundreds of stitches on our machines if we don't let them party every once in a while.  So, grab a cup of coffee, or some wine, and I hope you find some inspiration from the stitches I played with today!  For stitch details, be sure to reference the computer screen next to each stitch!
(Warning: All photos ahead... since let's be honest, it's been pretty wordy up to this point!)

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

(Oh, that corner haunts me.  That's why you slow down, adjust your stitch length, and make it work, people.)

photo 5

So, here's where I get honest with you.  I loved this stitch.  But, at first it puckered and tunnnnnneled.

photo 1

But, fear not!  I ripped it out, so you don't have to.  Two Words: Use.Stabilizer. For your projects you can use Pellon Stitch and Tear which comes off easily and keeps all of your shapes from distorted with the stitches.  Don't call the quilt police, but I made do with some interfacing because I'm an hour away from a craft store.  Don't judge, ya'll.  It worked.

(The straight stitch is so underappreciated!)

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

Another one that puckered.... (*&%$#!!!!!!)

photo 5

(Yes, I did break out the thick blanket stitch and call it new.)

So, here's where I leave you to go try new stitches.  What, you thought you'd get to see them all?  I have to save some suspense for the finished reveal of the QAL.  I can't share all my secrets.

However, I hope you're inspired to use more than the zig-zag and the blanket stitch, or at least make them larger than you normally would feel comfortable with on your applique projects.  This step takes long enough to show up in my humble opinion.

What about you, what machine stitch do you like to try?  After all, I have 5 more petals to stitch down.  What should I try?

Thanks again Ashley, for such an inspirational and well-thought-out post! And please make sure to stop by next week and link up your progress photos. We're halfway through, folks!

YOU ARE HERE --> July 21: Applique stitches with Ashley @ Wasn't Quilt in a Day
July 28 - August 4: Mid-way check in linky party
August 11: Other quilting ideas for orange peels
August 23 - September 8: Final Link-up!
September 9 -September 16: Voting for Viewer's Choice prize



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