Monday, April 3, 2017

Improvements In Progress

Although I create my quilts to sell, I also create what appeals to me. I have to like what I am making. If something hasn't sold in a couple of years, I take a more critical look at it to see why.

Recently, I decided that two of my quilts needed some extra quilting lines. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to add them in. Here is the original "final" picture of my yellow and white table runner.

The first year I had it on display, lots of people looked at it. Last year, not so much. I'm hoping with the extra quilting lines, which give it much more character, the quilt will sell.

 Another quilt I made that same year, is this Dogwood wallhanging. I had used a raw-edged applique technique, which I really liked. However, my colors may not be in line with today's color palatte. That I can't change.

What I did change was to add some wide, meandering quilting lines around the flowers. I used my walking foot because I am still having troubles using the new darning foot I got for Christmas. Since this was a finished quilt, I didn't want to cause any major problems.

I have one other quilt, a sports memory quilt, where the child's sport's team members can sign their names on it, that also has not sold. While that could use some additional quilting lines also, I just couldn't come up with something I liked. Nor did I feel it would be worth the time. Very few people looked at this quilt, so I think I will lower the price instead. If that doesn't work, I'll donate it to the church rummage sale.

As I started this post, I create what appeals to me. Selling my quilts means my house is not overrun with them, and someone else can enjoy them while I can enjoy the process of creating them.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Paper Pieced Folk Art Star

UFO's:  Those Unfinished Objects are rare in my sewing room. I am not usually one to set a quilt aside. I have very few UFOs because I am too thrifty/cheap and can't stand the thought of something sitting there. But once in awhile, a quilt stumps me; either I don't like how the blocks are turning out, or I don't know how I want to quilt it. I ran into that with the green Stars quilt, and just had to set it aside for awhile.
Instead, I challenged myself to make a mini-quilt, something I made a few of in the past. I played around with some shapes in a notebook, and came up with a pattern for a mini that I wanted to make with Christmas fabric. Once made, the pattern on paper didn't quite work, so I cut it smaller on the sides - the border was too big for the rest of the squares.
The quilt turned out alright. Not one of my favorites, but certainly passable. I think it looks real cute nestled among some items on a cabinet.

That done, I went on to create a paper-pieced, folk-art star quilt. That took a lot of thinking, plotting, and reworking to get the stars to come out right, and to make it work with the small selection of scraps I had.

I drew a start with a ruler on paper, then traced it on freezer paper. You'll notice from this picture that my points do not go all the way to the edge of the fabric. For me, it helps give me a little wiggle room if I don't sew it exactly at 1/4 of an inch.
After tracing and numbering the pieces on the dull side of the paper, I cut them apart and ironed the shiny side of the paper onto fabric. I worked one star at a time so I didn't get confused with the random order I was trying to create to use up different fabrics. 

 Using the numbers, I sewed them together in order. Once I was all done, I removed the paper from the back. Since the paper didn't go into the seam allowance (except by accident), it came off pretty easily.

When it came to quilting it, a design in a book I was reading gave me an instant idea to create "beams of light" radiating from the stars. I used a longer stitch on my machine, some painters tape and very quickly I was done. In the end, I was very happy with the way it turned out. In fact, it is one of my favorite finishes.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Machine Quilted Finish

It's finally done! Such a great feeling to say these words when you have worked on a quilt that was just a little bit of a challenge.
Not only was the making of this quilt a challenge, but I had no idea how I wanted to quilt the white spaces. Fortunately, when I was looking for something in my sewing room, I came across these paper quilting patterns from Borders Made Easy.
I haven't used them in years and really completely forgot about them. One look at them and I knew I could finish my quilt. These borders are very easy to use. In simple terms, you cut them to size, use the adhesive strips on the back to attach them to your quilt, sew on the lines and then tear off the paper.

I cut the border into small pieces to use in between the star points.

Then I tackled the borders, which was actually very easy because you can make one continuous sewing line all the way around. Since I didn't connect all my borders, I had four continuous lines. Still, that is nothing compared to some of my other options.
In addition to using the adhesive strips, I added a few pins just to be sure. Also, since this product was purchased a long time ago, the adhesive was a little gummy in spots where I sewed over it (when two pieces overlapped.) Otherwise, it is a breeze to work with.

A lesson learned for myself is to quit making quilts with lots of white space. Quilting them is just not my thing and I literally had to force myself to finish. This quilt was a UFO exception. Usually, I finish a quilt before starting another. However, it is now finished and I'm on to the next project!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Evolution of a Quilt

As I have mentioned previously, rarely do I follow a pattern as written. There must be something haywire in my brain, but I just can't seem to do it. Modifications happen regularly.

Last fall, a paper-pieced, tree quilt caught my eye. It was made with rows of triangles, each row having a few less to create a larger triangle tree shape. I knew it would work perfectly for the small stash of green scraps I had.

After drawing out some paper foundations, I set to work. And after three rows, decided I didn't like making it. Sigh.
I let it sit for awhile. Then one day while reading a library book of paper-pieced patterns, I found a star pattern that caught my eye, but was a little too complex. After some experimenting on paper, I was able to re-create a version with less points.
I figured out some measurements and realized I could incorporate the three lines of pieced triangles, with two of the stars, to create a quilt. And that is what I did.

It was a close call to have enough fabric to make the stars. I really had to think about fitting the smaller size points on smaller fabric, while still alternating fabrics, but it all worked in the end.
The one part of paper piecing that I really like is the accuracy of the "joints" - things fit together almost perfectly!
My Clover mini-iron was a real help with the triangles, but didn't work as well with the larger star points.
The stars didn't look that great attached directly to the triangle strips, so I added some sashing in between.
By early December, I had it all pieced together. And then it sat. I knew I needed to add quilting lines, but I wasn't sure what to do. In my next post, I'll show how I ended up quilting it.