Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Last Day to Enter the Electric Quilt Design Challenge + Andover Fabrics Giveaway!

Good morning, my lovelies, and Happy Tuesday!

Today's post is just a quickie -- I stumbled across an Electric Quilt software design contest sponsored by Andover Fabrics to promote their new Century Solids line of solids.  The winner gets a free collection of beautiful muted, historically inspired solid fabrics to add to their stash, and you still have time to enter -- but today is the deadline.  

Here's my entry:



These are 20" star blocks that could be made from either a jelly roll or a honey bun (although you'd need to go skimpy on your seam allowances if you were using the 1.5" honey bun strips).  Even if you don't feel like entering the design contest, EQ users will want to take advantage of the free fabric download of the Andover Century Solids collection that you can find on the EQ web site here.  While you can certainly design a quilt with solid fabrics using the paint color palette in EQ, using actual swatches of solid fabrics ensures that your finished quilt will come out looking identical to what you created on your computer screen.  As of right now, there are only 50 designs that have been entered in the contest, and they are still accepting entries through 11:59 PM EST tonight.  If you decide to enter, then good luck to you -- and if not, then all the good luck should be wished directly to ME!  :-)


You might be wondering why I am promoting this contest today, since I have no affiliate relationship with either Electric Quilt software or with Andover Fabrics.  Telling other people about the contest only reduces my own odds of winning!  But I like my strippy star design so much that, if I DO win the contest and they send me this pack of solids, there is no way I'd have the discipline to put that fabric away in my stash and responsibly continue working on my many projects already in progress.  I would have to immediately cut into it and start turning my star design into an actual quilt top.  You guys can't let that happen to me, not so soon after I just caved in and bought the Moda American Jane Good Times Under the Stars quilt kit that I have no time to start making any time soon.  SAVE ME, by submitting an awesome design of your own before midnight!  :-)

Who am I kidding?  You guys know me by now.  You know I'm going to start making my Amish Baby strippy star quilt whether I win the fabric collection or not.  I'm liable to get impatient and go out and buy the fabric TODAY, before they even announce the contest winner!  Whether I ever FINISH this quilt, or whether I ever finish any of the projects I've already started, is another question entirely!  

Because what I'm most intently focused on right now is custom quilting my Spirit Song quilt on my APQS long arm machine.  Meanwhile, my husband is intermittently nagging me about why I haven't made any more blocks for the Beware of the Ishmaelites sampler quilt I started making for my younger son's bedroom a couple years ago, and I should also start thinking about that same son's high school graduation quilt that I'll want to have finished by June 2021...  My Tuesday To Do this week is to finish quilting the borders and the blue HSTs on my Spirit Song quilt (using blue thread) so I can start the last stage of quilting, which will be all of the fill quilting in off white thread in the neutral patches of this quilt!


What you see above is a gray scale photo of my actual quilt top, oriented sideways like how I have it mounted on my quilting frame, and I've sketched in my border designs on my iPad.  I printed that out and have it near my quilting machine to help me remember which way the half inch spaced lines should be going in the different triangle sections as I'm quilting.  It would be a HUGE bummer to get to the bottom long border, quilt my way across, and realize that my design didn't match up at the bottom right corner!  In the full color photo below, you can see the already quilted lines across the top border, and the lines I've drawn in on my iPad in blue to show me which directions the lines should go as I move into the side border:



Feedback Requested; Please Vote in This Quick Poll -- Just One Question, Just One Click!

Hey, if you haven't already done so, I'd really appreciate it if you'd take a second to vote in my poll (below) to let me know there's enough interest out there for me to start hosting a new Long Arm Learning themed linky party here at Cheeky Cognoscenti.  You can also share feedback about that in the comments, such as if there's a particular day of the week that you'd prefer for the weekly link up, or anything I should do to make it easier for you to remember to participate.  For the record, I'm all about casting as wide a net as possible, because the more people who are involved, the greater my opportunity to learn from all of you.  So any and all longarm quilters are invited to participate, regardless of whether you have a frame mounted long arm, a sit down table mounted long arm like the HQ Sweet 16 or the Bernina Q20, any brand machine...  Even machine quilters who are using domestic sewing machines.  I think I can structure the link up so that you can either participate by linking up a blog post, OR by linking an Instagram post or photo.  For those of you who are professional long arm quilters running a business or for those who have have quilting businesses where you teach, coach, write quilting books or sell quilting related products, know that I would NOT restrict anyone from linking a post that promotes their quilting business.  I am all about supporting small businesses, and since my whole objective in doing this is so that I can find out about new techniques, classes, books, rulers, etc., participation from professional quilters is a huge value add.  I would also be open to hosting or promoting a giveaway, quilt-along, or a blog hop as long as it directly relates to some aspect of machine quilting that can be done on a long arm quilting machine.


I'm linking today's post up with:

·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon

·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us







Saturday, June 27, 2020

I'm Thinking About Launching a NEW Long Arm Linky Party! Would YOU Participate?

Good morning, my lovelies!  Before I share my custom quilting progress on my Spirit Song project, I'd love it if you'd take a second to give me feedback on an idea I've been kicking around for a new linky party.

When I tried to link up my last quilting post with Karin's Ruler Work linky at The Quilt Yarn, I was disappointed to read that she has decided to discontinue hosting her link-up due to low participation levels.  Like many of you, I already participate in quite a few linky parties (One Monthly Goal, Design Wall Monday, To Do Tuesday, to name a few).  I love that these parties attract a wide variety of participants, from hand quilters to longarm quilters, modern to traditional, appliqué, paper piecing, and everything in between.  I have discovered lots of creative quilt bloggers and inspiration through these link-ups.  

However, right now I'm making a concerted effort to develop my long arm quilting skills, and it would be really helpful to connect with a community of other machine quilters who are working through similar challenges.  I'm always so excited when I stumble across another long arm quilter's blog, whether it's a seasoned professional quilter, a teacher, or a hobby quilter like me.        I want to see and read about the different rulers, notions, and gadgets other quilters are experimenting with and finding useful for machine quilting, which threads and battings they are using and how they like them, and the challenges they are encountering and overcoming as they become more proficient with their machines, where they are finding the best online or in-person classes and workshops, etc.  Also, although I'm quilting with a long arm machine mounted to a frame, I realize that there is a lot of crossover between machine quilting on a frame, sit down long arm machines like the Sweet 16 or the Q20, and quilting with a domestic sewing machine.  This would be an all-inclusive linky party, open to anyone who wants to share their machine quilting, regardless of what kind of machine they're using.




I understand that hosting a linky party is a big ongoing commitment, with even more time required in the beginning to get the word out to other quilters.  I am willing to take this on, as long as there is interest out there from other quilters -- so please answer my poll (above) to let me know how YOU feel about it.  Feel free to share any other suggestions about the linky party in the comments section, like if there's a particular day of the week you prefer, how long you think the link party should be open, etc.  Thank you!

...And Now, Back to the Quilt On My Frame:



Meanwhile, custom quilting on Spirit Song is progressing, slowly but surely.  I've been pretty consistent about getting in an hour or two of quilting time most days.  I finished the first long border a few days ago (my quilt is loaded on my frame sideways, so the "top" is really one of the long sides of the quilt).  


I know it's hard to see my quilting design against the large-scale floral print, so youmight think of all this time I'm spending quilting the borders with rulers as a wasted effort.  But it's really good practice, and it's nice to know that if I DO get a minor bobble or "whoopsie!" here or there, it's not going to jump out at anyone because it's camouflaged by the fabric print.



Chalk Stencil Marking for String of Pearls Border

Since I opted to use blue quilting thread in my wide outer border, I moved right into the skinny blue inner border after that.  And I'm being BRAVE -- I'm trying to quilt a "String of Pearls" in this border -- half inch circles!  In order to bolster my courage, I am marking the circles with a Full Line stencil and Quilt Pounce Stencil Chalk as a guide to help me quilt pearls that are somewhat round, consistent in size, evenly spaced, and to ensure that I end with a full circle when I come to the corner.  Interestingly (and thankfully!), the pounce chalk powder markings are lasting longer with this border design than the exact same chalk powder did for the swirly free motion designs that I was marking in the interior of the quilt.  Several possiblilities for why that might be:

  • I'm using a commercially made Full Line stencil for my String of Pearls border rather than a DIY vellum paper stencil perforated with a sewing machine needle.  This stencil has a very fine mesh with very tiny holes that allow the chalk through the stencil in more controlled amounts.
  • The pieced blocks in the interior of my quilt got a shot of starch after each and every seam was pieced and pressed open, and again as the blocks were joined together into a quilt top, whereas the blue border was only starched once after the border was attached to the quilt.  The interior of the quilt, where the starch was applied in many layers, may have filled in the nooks and crannies of the fabric weave and created a Teflon-like nonstick finish that the chalk can't settle into as well as it does with the only slightly starched border fabric.
  • I am quilting my pearl circles pretty slowly in an attempt to keep them round, and I feel like my quilting machine creates less vibration and bounce to the quilt top at this slower speed, and that may be contributing to the longevity of the chalked markings as well.
For whatever reason, I'm very much relieved that I was able to mark the entire length of this pearl border first and then quilt it in one pass, from corner to corner, and still have clear, distinct circle marks to follow when I reached the end.  

Experimenting With a Smaller Needle

One more thing I changed last night: I put in a new needle -- again! -- and this time, I went with a size 3.5 Groz Beckert industrial needle rather than the 4.0 needle I had been using previously with my So Fine #50 in the needle and Bottom Line #60 in the bobbin combination.  Superior Threads has a handy reference chart on their web site that suggests optimal needle sizes for each of their threads, and size 4.0 is what they recommend for So Fine #50, but size 3.0 is recommended for the 60 weight Bottom Line thread that I'm using in the bottom, so I wanted to see what would happen if I split the difference and went down to a 3.5 needle.  It's a subtle difference, but especially when I'm checking stitch quality on the back of my quilt, the stitches do look better to me when that tiny little Bottom Line bobbin thread isn't swimming in a gigantic hole from a size 4.0 needle.  And I'm not seeing any shredding or thread breaks to my So Fine top thread, so the 3.5 needle eye seems to be plenty big enough for the So Fine thread diameter.


Here's what my inner border of pearls looked like once I'd finished the quilting and wiped away the white chalk markings.  Disappointing, right?!  I was really nervous about trying to quilt half inch circles on a real quilt for the first time, and I thought a blending blue thread color would be my safest option.  But now that I've quilted it and it didn't come out nearly as terrible as I thought it would, I'm bummed that I can't SEE the pearls I quilted!  I wish I'd quilted them in silver metallic instead!  Ah, well -- Live and learn!  Perhaps the quilting texture will be more apparent after I wash the finished quilt.  Next time, I'll make bolder thread choices where I want my quilting to be noticed!

I've also started quilting the two different motifs that I selected for my blue half square triangles throughout the interior of my quilt, since I'm already threaded up with blue.  One of the design is a free motion "lollipop flower" with swirly leaves (at least that's what I'm envisioning as I'm quilting it), and the other one is a simple straight line motif that has me reaching for a ruler once again.


When I tried to quilt this little motif totally freehand, the results were not pretty.  If I was a seasoned pro, any straight line ruler would have worked fine.  I quickly realized that, as a newbie, I needed help gauging where my needle would end up in relation to the angle of my ruler edge, especially since I'm quilting lines that angle away from my seam lines.  My HandiQuilter Versa Tool came to the rescue!  This ruler has little quarter inch extension notches at either end of the straight edge, etched with a faint marking to indicate where the needle will end up if your hopping foot stitches along the straight edge of the ruler.  I've added little pieces of pink OmniGrid Glow Line Tape to the back side of those ruler extensions for even greater visibility.


The long strip of wide, clear tape that you see along the straight edge of my ruler is super cheap, but super effective, NexCare Clear First Aid Tape that reduces unwanted slipping and sliding when I'm quilting with rulers.  You can find that at your local pharmacy, or order it on Amazon here.  

Well, that's all I have for you today.  My To-Do for Tuesday goal is to keep plugging away at the borders and blue HSTs on my Spirit Song quilt, and hopefully progress to the final quilting stage of the off-white background fills.  I'll wrap this up with a photo of a lovely gardenia in my front yard.  I love how, when I take a picture of an all-white blossom and then blow it up BIG on my computer screen, I see so many different colors in the petals, from shades of white, cream, and gray, to ivories and butter yellows.  It reminds me of Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings!  


Please remember to vote in my linky party poll if you haven't already done so, and share any other thoughts you have about that in the blog comments.  Have a great day, and I hope you get to do some quilting!  I'm linking today's post up with my favorite linky parties:

FRIDAY

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

 

·       Tips and Tutorials on the 22nd at: Kathleen McMusing

SATURDAY

·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland

SUNDAY

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

MONDAY

·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·       BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  

TUESDAY

·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon

·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us

WEDNESDAY

·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

THURSDAY

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

·       Free Motion Mavericks at Quilting & Learning Combo OR at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Quilter's Groove Ruler Rhapsody on a Theme of Blissful Borders

OH MY GOSH, you guys -- I am so excited about a funny looking quilting ruler that I already owned, didn't love when I first tried it, and never expected to use again!!  I'm GIDDY!  I am about to sound like an infomercial for Quilter's Groove rulers, but I swear to you all that I have no affiliation whatsoever, I'm not making commission or earning stock dividends or anything else.  I learned about Lisa Calle's Quilter's Groove rulers for long arm quilting when I took a bunch of workshops with her at AQS Quilt Week last year.  Lisa was an awesome teacher, funny and patient, inspirational and encouraging, and I just really, REALLY like her line of rulers.


Okay, so backing up a bit for those who may be joining me for the first time: I'm working on my Spirit Song quilt, a heavily pieced, very scrappy, and very cheerfully colored project that has no immediate purpose besides learning and exploring new techniques.  For this quilt, I've already:
  1. Designed the quilt in EQ8, with the learning objective of designing a quilt that I could cut out completely with my new Accuquilt GO! die cutting system and 8" Qube set of dies.
  2. Cut out the whole quilt, with the exclusion of the borders, using the Accuquilt GO! die cutting system.  First time using dies to cut out a quilt.
  3. Pieced the quilt top.
  4. Loaded the quilt top on my APQS Millennium long arm quilting frame, using a new-to-me batting, Quilter's Dream Cotton Select.  I fully floated the quilt top.
  5. Completed all of the SID (Stitch In the Ditch) using Superior MonoPoly invisible monofilament thread in the needle and Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin (Bottom Line is a new-to-me thread).
  6. Rolled back up to the top of the quilt, no longer floating but completely secured with SID and basting along outer edges through all three layers.  Switched to a pale peach Superior So Fine 50 weight thread in the needle, staying with Bottom Line in the bobbin.
  7. Spent hours and hours and went through several blue water soluble temporary fabric markers, marking my straight line ruler work throughout the interior of the quilt
  8. Made my own DIY vellum paper stencils and experimented with different brands of pounce chalk powder to transfer these FMQ designs to my quilt
  9. Started quilting without checking tension on the back of my quilt, was horrified when I saw the back of my quilt, and spent an hour or two carefully ripping and removing those ugly and structurally unsound stitches.  First time removing bad quilting from a real quilt, and good practice on how to do it without ripping a hole in the quilt.  Knotted and buried the loose thread tails after ripping to ensure the adjacent good stitching remained secure.
  10. Then proceeded to work my way down through the quilt again, quilting the ruler work and free motion swirly-curl designs in all of the peach/pink/orange/yellow triangles.
I designed and cut out this quilt in October of 2019, finished piecing the top and loaded it onto my quilting frame in April of 2020, and I've been working on the custom quilting for the past two months.  So, at this point, I have about 6 months invested in this project.  I am NOT a speedy quiltmaker...

Initially, my plan was to start quilting dense fillers in all of the white/off white/neutral background fabrics of my quilt next, but after doing zero quilting in the outer border and quite a bit of quilting in the interior of my quilt, the interior of the quilt has begun to draw up a little and the outer border was looking a little loose and ripply, as though I'd cut the border strips too long and gathered them slightly when I attached them.  I decided that I should quilt those outer borders before putting any more quilting in the interior of the quilt, to prevent distortion, pleats, or tucks from happening there.


I like to plan quilting designs on my iPad, where I can sketch right on top of a photograph of my quilt top in full color, over and over again until I come up with something that I like.  For Spirit Song, I wanted to kind of "ghost" the triangular piecing into my outer border, but without getting too busy or complicated since this is already a very busy quilt with a bold, busy floral border.  I got the idea for my border from a quilt by Rose City Quilter that I discovered on Pinterest:


I liked this border because it would give me some nice texture in the border, it looked fairly straightforward to quilt, and I knew the straight lines would complement the large floral print rather than fighting with it the way a feather border might.  But I had to figure out how to handle my corners.

I wanted my quilted border triangles to align with the pieced triangles within the center of my quilt, but I have a narrow 1" blue border separating the interior of the quilt from the outer border. That meant I needed to come up with something different for the corners, because if I just stretched the last triangles out at the corners to incorporate the width of the inner border, I'd either have triangles with different angles than all the others, or triangles with their outer points chopped off by my quilt binding.  Back to the iPad, I sketched out a few different options and liked this one the best:


Now that I knew what my border design was going to look like, I had to figure out how to actually quilt it.  One option would be to use a ruler and some kind of temporary marker to draw every single line onto my quilt top before quilting it.  Well, that wasn't happening, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, neither the purple air erasable marker nor the blue water soluble marker was going to show up on my deep purple and red border fabric.  My only options were going to be white chalk pencil or the Clover white marking pen that takes a few seconds to show up on dark fabric.  The Clover marker makes a nice, clear, very fine line on dark fabrics, but that delay between drawing a line and SEEING the line you just drew makes the marking process take even longer, especially if you need to see your previous line in order to measure where the next line should be drawn.  And the chalk pencils are annoying because either they make a thick, smudgy line or, if I try to sharpen them to a really fine point, then the point keeps snapping off and in 30 minutes I've only drawn about six lines and ground the entire pencil into shrapnel with the pencil sharpener!  But the main reason I wanted to mark my border design as minimally as possible was sheer fatigue after spending hours and hours and hours marking, quilting, and then removing marker lines all through the interior of my quilt.  

The lines I definitely felt I needed to mark were the zigzags delineating the triangles in my border, so I'd know when to switch the direction of my quilting lines (and avoid having to do additional stitch-ripping practice on this quilt).


My first thought was to mark these lines with one of my rotary cutting rulers, but the ones that were long enough just didn't have the 45 degree angle line etched in a convenient place.  I'm scooting my long arm machine head along the border as I'm marking so I can press down against the flat surface of my machine's ruler base to draw my lines, and the big rotary cutting ruler was knocking into my hopping foot.  But then I tried my Quilter's Groove Pro ruler, designed by master quilter and long arm quilting teacher Lisa Calle, and discovered that she put a 45 degree angle reference line in the exactly perfect spot that I needed it to be.  Brilliant!  All I had to do was eyeball the corner of the ruler to be where the triangle point landed on the inside of the blue border, line up the etched 45 degree angle line with the outer seam of my blue border, and mark a chalk line straight out to the edge, no measuring necessary.  In fact, if I was a little more confident, I probably could have used this ruler to just quilt the zigzag reference line all the way across the quilt without any marking at all.  



Ah, buy what about those half inch spaced lines that fill in my triangles, you might ask?  Did I mark all of those lines on my border before quilting them?  Did I make little tick marks every half inch so I'd have some kind of spacing reference for aligning my ruler as I stitched all these lines?  No, I did neither of these things, because I used my Quilter's Groove ProLine 2 ruler gizmo, which is ingeniously designed for quilting perfect half inch spaced lines without doing ANY MARKING AT ALL!


You guys, I almost SOLD this ruler because I never thought I'd use it again.  I am so glad I didn't!  This is one of the rulers that was included in the kit for the Rulers for Rookies workshop that I took with Lisa Calle at AQS Quilt Week in Paducah in 2019.  At that point I was very new to my long arm machine and had done very little quilting with rulers at all, so I was still getting the hang of how to position my hand on the ruler for the best control, how hard to press down on the ruler so it doesn't slip (but not so hard that my quilting machine can't move), etc.  And at that point, I had never marked a quilting design onto a large quilt before.  I had marked small areas for practicing on muslin practice quilts, but I did not have any sense of the hours and hours it takes to do that on a big quilt, or the additional time that it takes to remove those marked lines after quilting them.  So a ruler that eliminates the need to mark lines before quilting them didn't seem like a game changer to me at the time.  Also, as the true ruler rookie that I was when I was in that class, I was still having my ruler slip out of alignment on me periodically as I was quilting, which made my lines crooked and made me want the security of a marked line to follow on my quilt top.  (I have since then discovered the inexpensive solution of NexCare Flexible Clear first aid tape to prevent rulers from slipping).  So, I was underimpressed with the ProLine ruler concept when I first tried it, didn't understand why not having to mark the lines would be a bit deal, and didn't plan to purchase this ruler in other sizes.


And here I am, totally in love with this ruler, sending warm fuzzies out to Lisa for designing it and for including it in her class.  After using this ruler on my border for 30 minutes last night, I had to stop quilting, go to Lisa's web site, and order the other sizes right away!

The best way to understand how these rulers work is probably to watch one of Lisa's demo videos that you can find on her web site here.  For those who don't feel like watching a video right now, I'll do my best to explain.

With the ProLine rulers, you are stitching inside the channel that is cut into the center of the ruler, and the width of that channel determines how far apart your lines will be spaced.  Taking the diameter of your hopping foot into account, the ProLine 1 ruler has a channel that is sized to create lines spaced 1" apart, and the ProLine 2 that I'm using in my border has a channel sized to create lines spaced 1/2" apart.  The ProLine 4 gives automatic 1/4" spacing, the ProLine 8 gives 1/8" spacing, and the ProLine 16 gives you perfect 1/16" spacing.

If you think of that channel inside the ProLine ruler as a river, I'm always quilting my straight lines with my hopping foot riding along the left bank of my river.  Then, after I complete that line of stitching but WITHOUT moving my ruler, I quilt straight across the river (in the ditch of my border) until my hopping foot hits the right riverbank.  My needle is now exactly 1/2" away from my previous line of stitching.  Now, with my needle down and machine stopped, I slide my ProLine ruler to the right, keeping that 45 degree angle line right on my border seam, until my hopping foot hits the left river bank again.  Then I quilt the next line along the left riverbank again, repeating all the way along the border.

It is so easy, and it worked so well!  There are alignment lines etched into this ruler for 90 degree angles, 60 degree angles, and 45 degree angles.  It worked just as well for the horizontal and vertical lines in my corner as it did for the diagonal lines in the triangles.  These rulers work for piano key borders, bead board borders, crosshatching...  And the smallest sizes, the 1/8" and 1/16" versions, are going to make short work of dense background fills.


I selected a slightly contrasting shade of dusty blue thread, Superior So Fine in Misty Blue, for quilting my border, and now that I see how nicely the border is coming out, I'm glad that I didn't go with the purple blending thread I was considering.  Since I'm all threaded up with blue right now anyway, I might go ahead and quilt the circles in the skinny blue borders and quilt all of those little blue triangles at the same time.


It has taken me a lot longer to write about all of this (typically!) than it took me to actually quilt this little section of the border last night, but I was so excited about it that I just had to write about it.  Especially since I'd been so nervous about quilting the borders!  And yet I'm delighted with how this is coming out!  Can't wait to get back in the studio for more quilting today!

[By the way, when I putting in the links for this blog post, I discovered that Lisa Calle offers FREE video versions of her Rulers for Rookies class on her web site here.  There is one version of the class for quilters who are using a domestic or sit-down machine, and another version for long arm quilters.  The kit for the Rulers for Rookies class, consisting of a fabric panel and all five rulers used in the class, is available for purchase on Lisa's web site here. ]


Before wrapping up this post, I just had to share this picture of me and my 7 1/2 month old Rottweiler puppy, Sam.  He weighs about 93 pounds now, but he's still a snuggly, cuddly lap dog!  Do you know how hard it is to breathe with a 90+ pound dog laying on your chest?!  That's why I'm not smiling in this picture!!

I'm linking up today's post with:

SUNDAY

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

MONDAY

·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·       BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  

TUESDAY

·       Let’s Do Some Ruler Work at The Quilt Yarn

Friday, June 19, 2020

Good Times "Under the Stars" Quilt Kit Ordered, as Spirit Song Quilting Progresses to the Borders

I know, I know -- I was trying so hard to be good and not shop for new projects until finishing my Spirit Song quilt, but Green Fairy put the Under the Stars kit (using fabrics from the Good Times collection from American Jane) on their clearance sale for half price.  I have always admired star quilts similar to this one and I am so looking forward to making this quilt!


Under the Stars is designed to finish at 88" x 95" and the pattern description says it's "easier than it looks" due to strip piecing construction.  I was not able to find a photograph of an actual sample quilt for this kit, just the graphic rendering image above, so I don't know whether there are Y-seams or anything else about it.  I've never made a quilt from a kit before, either, so that makes me a little nervous.  I'm not sure how stingy they are with fabric in a kit, you know?  When I purchase fabric for a quilt, I always pad the yardage to allow for my inevitable cutting mistakes, and sometimes I still have to run back to the fabric store (or scour the Internet) for more fabric when I run out.  I wonder whether I should purchase additional fabric from this collection just in case, but who knows which one(s) I'd need more of?

By the way, I blame Karen of Quilts... etc. for this NewFO.  If she had not told everyone about the sale at Green Fairy Quilts, and I hadn't clicked her link out of curiosity to see the kit she was interested in, then I would never have even seen this quilt.  Once I fell in love with it, and found out that Karen had ordered hers, that was the end of my will power to resist.  Of course, Karen is WAY more productive than I am, and she will probably whip up her version of this quilt in the time it takes me to cut the fabric -- but maybe seeing her progress online will help me stay motivated!  :-)

So, as I'm looking at that image of the Under the Stars quilt, the only thing I'm not 100% in love with is the borders.  That could be an opportunity to "tweak" the kit and make it my own.  I'll have to think about that more when my kit comes in the mail and I can see the fabrics in person.  An appliqué border would look great with the stars, or maybe just a larger scale border print fabric if I could find one that coordinates with the fabrics.  Changing up the border would also give me the opportunity to make this quilt larger if I wanted to. But meanwhile, back to the quilt on the frame!


I actually AM making progress on my Spirit Song quilt.  I finished all of the ruler work and FMQ using peach thread last night, and rolled the quilt back up to the beginning to begin the next thread color.  At first I thought I'd do the background fills next in all of the white/off white/neutral fabric patches, so I rethreaded my machine with white thread last night.  But this morning I'm reconsidering.  It might be a better idea to quilt the wide outer borders first before adding more quilting to the center of the quilt.


And what will I quilt in this border?  I'm leaning towards a blending purple thread and a design similar to this one that I found on Pinterest by Rose City Quilter:


I just have to figure out how to mark the main triangle outlines, but then I should be able to quilt the straight lines without marking (hopefully!), either using the straight lines on my regular rectangular ruler, or I could try using my ProLine 2 ruler from Quilter's Groove to quilt those lines without marking them first.  I'm definitely experiencing some Quilt Marking Fatigue at this point!



I'm not an affiliate for Quilter's Groove rulers or anything like that.  I just really like them, after taking Lisa Calle's Rulers for Rookies workshop where she taught us how to use them.  Like all of Lisa's Quilter's Groove rulers, the ProLine series has lots of helpful reference lines etched into each ruler so you always have a way to line it up with a seam line or previously stitched line of quilting to maintain accuracy -- without extensive marking of your quilt ahead of time.  The way the ProLine rulers work is hard to explain, but pretty easy to use if you watch the videos and follow Lisa's instructions.  The width of the groove in the middle of this ruler is how you "measure" the spacing of the straight lines, so the ProLine 2 shown above is designed for 1/2" spaced lines.  She also has versions of this ruler available for spacing straight lines 1" apart, 1/4" apart, 1/8" apart, and 1/16" apart (for stitching straight line fills).  The ProLine 2 was included in my class kit when I took the Rulers for Rookies workshop at Paducah last Spring, and I just now ordered the other sizes.  I didn't think it was a big deal to mark all of my lines first when I was just quilting practice blocks on muslin, but now that I've been slaving away with all of the ruler work on my Spirit Song quilt, I'm singing a different tune!  The ProLine 8 might have helped me keep my squiggle width more even in my ruler work design:


I might use the ProLine 8 or the ProLine 16 for some straight line fills in the neutral background fabrics, too.  Can't experiment with rulers that you don't have, you know what I mean?


I do know what I want to quilt in the narrow blue border.  Half inch CIRCLES!  Also known as "string of pearls."  I'm planning to mark them with my Building Blocks Full Line Stencil and Pounce Chalk.  I am hoping that I can quilt rounder circles if I have them marked first.  Maybe the Pounce Chalk will adhere to the blue border fabric better than it did to the heavily starched fabrics in the interior of my quilt.

I'm linking today's post up with the following linky parties:

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

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