Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quilt to Pillow = Quillow

When I first started quilting, I began a series of wallhangings, one for each month of the year to hang on the inside of our front door. This was a really exciting project because I could display so many more quilts! Each month's wallhanging reflected the theme of the month - snowflakes in January, hearts in February etc.

Since then, we have redecorated our living room, which includes the front hallway, and I made a new quilt that hangs there permanently. The monthly wallhangings have mostly found new homes, except for two: September's Fall Leaves and November's Northwoods. I just wasn't able to give them away to our church craft fair, so they have been hanging in my sewing room for a few years. 

Last week I had the most ingenious (OK to me it was ingenious) idea to make the Northwoods wallhanging into a pillow. I had an extra green, flannel pillow case that I sewed to the quilt by stitching in the ditch around the binding. It was a perfect fit except for a few extra inches at one end. We had an extra bed pillow in the closet that I put inside the pillow case (not between the pillow case and quilt). After turning the extra fabric under the quilt, I basted that seam closed, also stitching in the ditch, so that If I needed to wash it, I could undo the stitching and take the pillow out. 

When I suggested putting this wallhanging on the wall in the basement, my husband wasn't too keen on the idea. Now that it is a "quillow", both he and my son are fighting over it! I have to admit, the quilting on the wallhanging helps make the the pillow extra soft, so maybe I'll steal it from them one day!

Posted to Sew Fresh Quilts "Let's Bee Social". 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Art Show

I finally went through my phone pictures and uploaded some to my computer so I can share pictures from our booth at the annual Art in the Park art fair in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

As I mentioned, I have been doing this show with my aunt and her friends for over ten years, and every year their talent never ceases to amaze me! Each year we bring new ideas and new quilts to the show and it is such great fun to interact with our customers and admirers!

We never set up the booth exactly the same way, as our quilt selection varies and we adjust to the number and size of quilts we create. The walls have been much appreciated though as you can see we are outside and have "weathered" almost everything but snow. (and I hope I haven't jinxed us!)

Quilting My Quilts

I mention this often, quilting makes me nervous. I am confident in my piecing and applique, but when it comes time to quilt my quilt, I am hesitant to start. Mostly, my fear comes from wanting to do some incredible free-motion stitching that I am not skilled enough to do.

So how am I overcoming some of this? First, this summer I have been on the look-out for really nice straight line quilting. A few of the modern quilt books I have been reading have some great ideas and I am keeping a sketch pad of ideas. Even if they are not exactly straight, as long as they are not looped I can handle it thanks to my walking foot attachment. This attachment has saved many a quilt as it really keeps the three layers together without puckers or bunching.

I have also experimented with using the walking foot to create designs. I created this snowflake pattern by drawing it on freezer paper, and then using the walking foot to trace the design. The loops were big enough and pointed, while the quilt was small enough that I could move things easily.

Even though I could have done straight line stitching on this quilt, it just called for me to quilt stars. These I did freehand, so some are not perfect, but overall they added to the theme of the quilt.

Two down, many more to go!

Final Placement of Quilt Blocks

I had most of the quilt blocks made for this pattern, except a few of the skinnier ones, when I decided to put it on my design board and play around. I wanted to make sure there wasn't too much of one fabric in one place, and I also wasn't sure how to finish the last skinny block. Once it was on the board, it was easier for me to see what I wanted to change. 

My board is very simple, a piece of plywood covered with batting and flannel. In fact, I think the flannel was from a crib sheet from our children - I can't remember! If you don't have one, laying things out on the ground works also. What really helps me the most, is using a door viewer - you know those peep holes in doors so you can see who is on the other side? By looking through it, you can see your quilt from a distance and kind of get a feel for how it looks as a whole.

I played around with the block placement and then made the following changes. The large block in the second row had a red square center, but I really needed to add more light tan, so I partially ripped up that block and changed the center. The skinny block next to it was an unknown. If you look closely, I actually have folded fabric pinned (and the center isn't straight as it is just sitting there) as I auditioned different fabrics before settling on this combination. 

Finally, I didn't like how the skinny block on the bottom row turned out - with the center more horizontal than vertical. So again, I ripped out the center seams and redid them so the red center was more vertical. After making the final block, I will piece them all together.

Planned Scrappy Quilt

I don't know if there is such a thing as a planned, scrappy quilt, but I feel that is what I am currently making. The other day I sat down with a box of fabric scraps that I have organized by color and theme, and pulled out the bag with the patriotic fabric. I have been pushing this bag around forever, trying to come up with a 4th of July theme wallhanging, when it suddenly hit me that I should try a scrappy table runner instead. I had just been reading Kim Schaefer's book "Cozy Modern Quilts"  and grabbed that off the table. Sure enough, on page 58 was the perfect quilt for these fabrics. Each square has a plan, so that is where I came up with this being a planned, scrappy quilt. 

I have never done something like this before, so as I was cutting each block (appropriately labeled block A, B etc) I pulled out some ziploc sandwich bags and labeled a bag for each block. That really helped me keep my pieces organized. Here is where I am so far: 


Saving Website Patterns as PDF Files

Lately, I have been finding some awesome patterns and recipes online that I want to save. However, I know from experience that websites and links can disappear in the future. If the pattern is one I really like, I have found a way to save the website as a PDF file.


First, you need to be in the Chrome browser. This method does not work with Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox (though there may be other ways to do it on these browsers). When you are on the page you want to keep, press Control P to get the print dialog box. Change the Destination option on the left to "Save as PDF". Then click on the "Save" button and you will get to choose a place to save the file. This is especially helpful for long instructions/recipes/tutorials that I don't want to print. Hope this helps you also!

Chain Piecing

Even though I had been sewing clothes for myself since I was in middle school, it wasn't until I was in my 30's that I started quilting. My motivator and mentor was and is my aunt who had been doing it for years. One of the best tricks that she taught me, which is such a time saver and something I use every single time I quilt, is to chain piece as you sew the pieces together.

She taught me to start with a "thread bunny" (or whatever you like to call it); basically a small scrap piece that is folded in half so you have two layers, and is always under your needle before you start sewing. You begin your seam on this scrap and then keep sewing right onto the pieces you are piecing together. As many of you know, it is so hard to get the seam started right at the edge of the material without sending the material down into the feed dogs/bobbin area. Since you don't backstitch seams like you do with clothing and can thus start a little bit in from the edge, this thread bunny really does its job.


When you finish sewing two pieces together, just feed the next set right under your presser foot and keep going. Sometimes I will sew a whole line of pieces, then clip off the ones behind the current piece, pin them together and just keep going. At some point you will have to end, and that is where you feed your thread bunny back under the needle to await the next round! As you can see below, I even chain piece diagonal seams. (If you are wondering about my presser foot, my regular foot is not an accurate 1/4" so I improvised.)

My Quilts

I wanted to start off this blog with a picture of the most recent set of quilts I took to an art fair last September. Once a year, I visit my aunt in northern Wisconsin and we sell our quilts at Art in the Park in Stevens Point. This is definitely a girl's weekend where we talk about quilts, quilts and more quilts the whole weekend! Here is a picture of what I took this year.


As you can see, I favor applique; and rarely do I follow a pattern. While I will do some piecing, the main focus is usually applique. However, I am challenging myself to start making more pieced, modern quilts, along with writing all the patterns that I create. This blog will be my sounding board as I embark on this new adventure!