Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Quilts Without Borders, or Works-In-Progress Wednesday

Hello, Lovelies!  Despite a freak neck/shoulder injury that hit me out of the blue on Sunday, I have still managed to sneak in a bit of sewing amid the bustle of holiday preparations.  I've been carefully cutting this border stripe print for my Jingle quilt, single layer so I can make sure the seam will land exactly where I want it on the stripe:

Proposed Jingle Borders
As you can see, there's a gap between the center medallion and the striped border that will be filled with another fabric and I haven't decided what that will be yet.  Green?  Red metallic?  Gold?  I'm only cutting one strip at a time because I have to press down on my acrylic ruler with my left arm for rotary cutting, and my left trapezius muscle (giant triangle that extends from my left shoulder to the middle of my upper back and all the way up my neck) has decided that the week before Christmas is a good time to spasm...  I'm alternating moist heat with ice packs and taking muscle relaxers and pain meds, but I'm trying to use that muscle as little as possible so it can heal.  Very annoying!  

Something Like This?
I am not even sure I like this idea anymore.  I go back and forth between loving this border print and hating it.  I did use a fair amount of metallic fabrics in my pieced blocks and applique, so this border print is supposed to tie those in, balance out all of that red and green, and make the whole thing look a little less cutesy.  I like how it frames the center medallion like a picture frame, especially if I do a good job mitering the borders.  At this point I need to stop second-guessing my design ideas and just GIT-'ER-DONE, you know what I mean?  I started making this Jingle BOM quilt back in April of 2013 and it deserves to be finished by now.  I'm planning to quilt it with a double layer of batting, add a hanging sleeve, and display it as a wall quilt during the Christmas holidays.  

The other thing I've accomplished -- brace yourselves! -- is that all 36 pineapple log cabin blocks have finally been sewn together into a quilt top!  YAY!!!  I started this quilt in June of 2014 so I've been working on this one for four and a half years already.  This one is going on my own bed, and I've selected a wool batting for warmth and dimension.

Pineapple Log Cabin Top is Finished, Just Needs Borders!
What you're seeing in the photo above is only half of this California King sized top.  When I drape it over the rollers of my longarm machine it drapes onto the carpet on both sides.

I Hope This Isn't Too Big for My Frame!
This quilt is the reason that I chose a 12' frame for my longarm machine, and nearly went with a 14' instead.  I really hope this fits on the frame once the borders are on!  I know it will fit the canvas leaders, but I'm not sure whether the machine needle will be able to reach all the way to the outside edges.  If not, well -- I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

The Plan: One Skinny Blue Border + One Wide Floral Border

My Kaffe Fassett Border Print
So that's where I am today.  I can only spend 10-15 minutes at a time cutting before I start to feel that stupid neck/shoulder muscle tensing and tightening up again, but I would love to get these two tops completed and hung in the To-Be-Quilted closet by the end of the week!  The pineapple quilt sections had been spread out all over the guest room bed and I needed that cleared out so my mom can sleep there on Christmas Eve.  The baby who's getting my not-yet-started clam shell quilt was born on the 14th -- that means Jingle needs to get off my wall so I can lay out the clam shells!

I'm linking up with:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Jingle Is Definitely On Santa's Naughty List! In Which It Becomes Clear That I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

UGH, y'all...  I am remembering why my Jingle BOM project stalled out in the first place.  :-(

With new resolve to get this top assembled and off my design wall, the first thing I did was to trim away the backing fabric from the largest applique shapes on the center medallion.

Oh, YES, I Trimmed That Backing Away!
I know quilters have mixed opinions about whether to trim away the backing fabric, with some saying the longevity of the finished piece is compromised by trimming backing away from beneath the applique and others saying it reduces bulk for more quilting possibilities and a softer finished quilt.

Is My Applique Stitched, or WOVEN INTO the Background Fabric?
However, with this first-ever applique attempt, I was overly neurotic about my hand stitches being small enough and I'm afraid there was a bit of overkill on that end.  (I have eased up and am no longer weaving my applique into the background fabric like this!).  Anyway, as you can see in the above photo, there is no way this stitching is going to come out, and my hand stitched applique seams are way more secure than my machine pieced quilt seams.  I only trimmed behind the center poinsettia and the layered pomegranates, though, because it was taking too long and I was on a mission to get this thing DONE.  And so I dug out those pattern directions and found the place where the designer tells you to cut down this 30" applique medallion to a finished size of 26 1/2".  Just "trim it down," she says, with no advice or instruction as to HOW to do this.

My 30 Inch Applique Medallion, Before Trimming
Well, folks -- I struggled.  I measured carefully, and tried my best to trim off the same amount from all four sides, and I ended up with TWO sides measuring 26 1/2" as they were supposed to, and the OTHER two sides measuring only 26".  Also the corners were no longer square.  Did you hear me screaming all the way at your house?!  

I'm convinced that the stuffed berries are what did me in.  Normally I'd lay my acrylic ruler on top of my block and trim away the excess fabric with my rotary cutter, but these stuffed berries near the edges of the medallion lift the ruler up off the fabric so the ruler can't hold the fabric in place while you're cutting.  Instead, I tried to place the ruler over the outside edge of the block that I was trimming away.  Didn't work so well.  :-(  I trimmed again and managed to get all four sides of the block to measure the same 26" with square corners again, but now I'd lost the seam allowances and some of my outer leaves are awfully close to where the border seams are going to  be stitched.  I'm going to have to finesse that with my borders.  If I was planning to diagonally set this medallion as Erin did in her quilt, I would be in deep trouble because it would be too small.  Thankfully I'd already decided to set the medallion straight and add inner borders rather than setting triangles.  So those inner borders will be next.  That's my To-Do for Tuesday! (Linking up with To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things:

My Border Print Fabric
Nothing like a royal screw-up to sap your motivation!  What really kills me is that my medallion was so straight and square to begin with, since I tore instead of cutting to keep the edges perfectly on grain.  Thinking ahead to my next applique project with a large medallion, I'm thinking that maybe I should machine baste the final cutting line onto my block background in a contrasting thread color before I start stitching, and then use that thread line as a cutting guide at the end.  What do you all think?  

If anyone knows the magical secret of how to trim completed applique blocks without ruining them, PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!  The only gadget I've seen to help with this is pricey, Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Adjustable Square set:

Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Adjustable Square Set
The suggested retail is $75 and the best price I've found is on the AQS web store, $56Amazon also has it for $65 with Prime "free" shipping.  My understanding is that this tool wouldn't have helped with my Jingle medallion because it only goes up to 26", not 26 1/2" like my block was supposed to be.  Does anyone have this tool, and if so, is it worth it?

Okay, so writing about a quilt actually does NOT help it get closer to being finished...  Have a wonderful Tuesday, everyone!  I'm linking up with WIPs On Wednesday at Esther's Quilt Blog.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

NEW Favorite LQS and NEW Project! Modern Baby Clam Shell Quilt

Okay, so the advice I got from you all from my last post was pretty evenly split down the middle between quilting another charity quilt for more practice versus attempting to custom quilt my Paint Me a Story bear paw quilt with my current skill set.  So last week I quilted nothing in real life and designed a compromise project in EQ8 software instead.  

The new project will be more interesting to piece than what I'd choose for a charity outreach project, but not nearly as complex as any of my WIPs that are anywhere near quilting stage.  This baby quilt is intended as a gift for baby whose arrival is anticipated within the next week, so that gives me a built-in "deadline."  [Just so we’re clear, that deadline is December of 2036.  I hope to finish the baby quilt before the baby turns 18].  Baby quilts are really perfect for developing custom quilting skills because if it looks great, the recipient will love it -- and if it DOESN'T look that great, no one will notice because everyone will be gushing over an adorable BABY! 

Behold, my new Modern Baby Clam Shell Quilt design:

Modern Baby Clam Shell Quilt, 40 x 40

Have I told you guys lately how much I love designing quilts in EQ?  And no, they don't pay me to say that, either (unfortunately!).  These clam shells will finish at 9.5" x 9.5", perfect for showing off large scale prints -- and perfect for piecing together relatively quickly, curved piecing challenges notwithstanding.  
I chose this size clam shell because I already own this set of 9.5" clam shell acrylic templates:

Once I'd come up with this design I was so excited about making the quilt that I dragged my husband with me, in rush hour + holiday shopping traffic, to a quilt shop that is 37 miles away and located across the street from the giant Concord Mills outlet mall.  

Inside We're Sew Creative in Concord, NC
I hadn't been to this shop in years since it's a 40 minute drive even without traffic, but my husband thought the traffic would be even  worse if we went to my usual shop (Sew Much Fun in Lowell, NC, near Gastonia).  The two stores are about the same distance away from me but in opposite directions, and Bernie correctly anticipated that the heaviest traffic would be going in the opposite direction from us if we went to the store in Concord rather than to the store in Lowell.

And I am SO GLAD I went to We're Sew Creative in Concord, NC because, although they stock less fabric overall than Sew Much Fun, the lines they DO carry are some of my favorites -- and they also carry the following products that I did not know I could purchase locally and had been reluctantly ordering online:

I think this shop has been open for about 8 years, so it's not a new shop -- but it IS newly one of my favorites!  I will be changing my longarm needles and my applique needles more frequently now that I know I can get in my car and buy new ones any time I need them, and I am SUPER EXCITED that I can buy that gorgeous, strong, tension-friendly Glide thread in person, where I can lay strands of different colors across my fabric rather than guessing about colors that I see on a computer monitor.  I am GIDDY.

I ended up with a different color scheme for my Modern Baby Clam Shell quilt than what I originally designed in EQ:

My Real Life Selections for the Modern Baby Clam Shell Quilt
When I start out designing a quilt in EQ, I generally use fabric from a "virtual stash" -- images that are already loaded into the software's fabric library.  However, most of those fabrics do not exist "in real life" in my stash.  So, once I have my basic design, I look at real fabric that I own already or that is currently available for me to purchase, import those fabrics into my EQ8 software, and then recolor the design and do any additional tweaking until I'm happy with the way everything looks on my screen.

Modern Baby Clam Shell in Grunge Sky with Painted Garden Layer Cake
I selected fabrics for this quilt with the new momma's personality in mind.  I was smitten by Crystal Manning's Painted Garden collection for Moda and picked up that layer cake first for the print clam shells:

I like the bold colors and "painterly" style of these florals especially, and the scale of the prints is perfect for my oversize clam shells:
10 Inch Painted Garden Layer Cake, Same Size as My Cut Clam Shells
I chose Moda Grunge Basics in Sky for my background fabric rather than the pale gray/white I was originally thinking of for two reasons.  First, this is a baby quilt and babies are messy.  Pale pastel and white baby quilts get stained and dingy looking very quickly, wheres bold, brightly colored fabrics continue to look good even as they fade from frequent laundering.  Second, there is a lot of hot pink and red and florals in my layer cake, and I wanted a background fabric that would tone down the hyper-girly-pink vibe a bit:
Moda Grunge Basics in Sky
I'll be using Kaffe Fassett's Rose Clouds fabric in Mint Green for my backing.  This is one of those fabrics that didn't wow me when I first saw it online, but it's FABULOUS in person.  The style of the rose print complements the Painted Garden layer cake print beautifully, but in a much larger scale that will look fantastic as the reverse side of my baby quilt.

Backing Fabric: Kaffe Fassett Rose Clouds in Mint Green, FreeSpirit Fabrics
Finally, for my binding, I'm using the same fabric I used on my Tabby Mountain Disco Kitties quilt earlier this year, Tula Pink's All Star Stripes in Peony.

Tula Pink's All Star Stripes in Peony, FreeSpirit Fabrics
(By the way, I'm including Etsy and Amazon (affiliate) links for y'all's convenience for all of my fabric and thread picks, but PLEASE support your local quilt shop if you're lucky enough to have one that caters to your taste!  Online shopping has come a long way for sure, but there's nothing like dragging bolts of fabric around a quilt shop in person and those quilt shops are precious treasures!)

I'll be quilting this with Glide monofilament polyester thread in color #37457 Cloud, which is a really close match to the Grunge-Sky background fabric.  That will help to camouflage the wobbles that are to be expected when learning new skills, and I know from experience that Glide thread is beginner friendly and easy to use with my longarm machine.  I even doodled some quilting ideas on my iPad last night:
Possible Quilting Design
Of course I have no idea whether I actually own the right curved quilting rulers to actually quilt that design, but I like the idea of it!  I'm considering a machine embroidered monogram in the center circle, but not 100% sure about that yet.

...And yet, with all of this designing and fabric shopping and quilt doodling, no actual sewing has been done...  Well, my main sewbaby, the 'Nina 750QE, was in the Bernina shop for her annual Well Baby visit last week, and I'm juggling several interior design projects for clients, just finished up a class I've been taking, and oh yeah -- only 23 days until Christmas.  I haven't even set foot in my studio.

And yet, on this first Sunday of Advent, what I think I'd most like to work on is my Jingle BOM quilt:

2013 Jingle BOM, Designed by Erin Russek, Hogging My Design Wall Since Late June
Two reasons: First, I need to get Jingle off my design wall in order to use the design wall for laying out my clam shell project.  This quilt has been mocking me from my design wall since late June, and I've been pointedly ignoring it.  Second, well...  Wouldn't it be fun to put an actual CHRISTMAS quilt on my frame to work on during Advent?  

And so, because I am a crazy person who likes to torture myself with unnecessary stress and anxiety around the holidays, I hereby declare that:

Finishing My Jingle Quilt Top is My OMG (One Monthly Goal) for December!

I'm linking this post with the December OMG linky party over at Elm Street Quilts, and I'm also linking up with: