Monday, March 21, 2011

Small Quilts

I really like small quilts. George Siciliano and Sally Collins make the most exquisite small quilts I've ever seen, but I can't see myself making an entire quilt out of blocks that finish to a half inch or log cabins with logs measuring a quarter inch wide. No, three inches is just about the smallest block size I want to work with, and those use up the smallest scraps I keep very nicely.

Last year and the year before, I promised myself that I would make more small quilts, but I didn't. This year I'm keeping that promise to myself. Over the last month or so, I've finished four small quilts and have more in the works. They are all just tops so far, and I'll get to the quilting eventually.

The crocus that I was working on at the beginning of the month, courtesy of Eileen Sullivan of The Designer's Workshop, is finished now; and it measures 14" x 16". Old Man Winter is not done with us yet, and we got another couple inches of wet, heavy snow this afternoon. The crocuses give me hope that eventually it really will be spring. This is what I used for my paper piecing demonstration for my quilt group.

Last year at this same time, you may recall that I was asked to do a paper piecing demo, and I used this Pineapple Blossom block. The pattern is Bonnie Hunter's, but the idea for the colors came from one of Gayle Bong's quilts. This will probably prove to be one of my favorites. I love the colors in it, and I love that border fabric. It measures 22" x 22".

This one is called Strip Mine. The method is one I learned ten years ago when I took the class from Quilt University online. The class, taught by Patti Anderson, is still being offered. The fun thing about this little quilt is that the foundation used for the piecing is actually showing through as the white stars. This one also measures 22" x 22". The original blocks were six inches, so I drafted them into my EQ program and resized them to four inches. Four blocks make one complete star.

In December my Secret Sister presented me with this little pack of five fat quarters. (The dark green print was not part of the pack.) I decided that I'd use them up in a series of small quilts, but I'm not necessarily using every fat quarter in every quilt.

This is the first one in what I'm calling (for the moment) my Pink and Green series. It's a small quilt from one of Lori Smith's fat quarter quilting patterns, and I used four of the five fat quarters plus two or three fabrics I added to the mix. It measures 16" x 20".

Pink and Green #2 is also one of Lori Smith's fat quarter quilts and will finish to 16" x 20". Two of the sections in the photo have not yet been sewn together, and there are top and bottom triangle borders still to be added. I only used one of the five fat quarters in this piece.

Pink and Green #3 will be a small applique quilt, and Pink and Green #4 will be the Bra quilt, which you'll hear more about later.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Strip Tease

Except for burying a few thread tails, my Strip Tease quilt is finished. It's not a pretty quilt, nor was it meant to be; but it turned out nicely just the same. It is a collection of fabrics that either I didn't like, didn't want, or couldn't figure out how to use in a project.

This is a very old ufo, started ten or more years ago as a project with an online group. Then it evolved into a quilt meant for my two little dachshunds. Both my dogs passed away a few years back, so now I'm giving it a local shelter that is trying to replace bed coverings on 17 of their twin beds.

The quilt was surprisingly easy to put together. I sewed strip sets with four strips to a set, then cut the diamonds from the strip sets. Next I sewed the diamonds together in long rows, as long as the bed it was meant for. Then the rows were sewn together. The seams nest together perfectly, so the rows are a cinch to sew.

The photo above shows the top before I trimmed up the ends. I guess I didn't think it needed a border, so there's none on there.

I used Bonnie Hunter's idea of sewing together 10-inch squares for the backing, which gave me the opportunity to use up more un-beautiful fabric. Same thing with the binding--I used half a dozen different dark green strips and sewed them all together.

At the end of Bonnie's article here about her scrap user's system, she explains the rationale for using 10-inch squares for a quilt back.

I used up just over 12-1/2 yards of fabric in this quilt, so it was a good stashbuster too. I plan to make another sometime soon, as there is no shortage of ugly fabric at my house.

The pantograph I used is one of Keryn Emmerson's, called Lida. First time I've used it, and I really like it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quilt Carry Bag

There are no crocuses in my yard yet, but my daffodils are about 6 inches tall where the snow has melted around the foundation. I am so ready for spring.

My quilt group scheduled a workshop for this carry bag in January, so I sewed the strips together ahead of time and decided I would go no further until the workshop. The workshop got canceled--several times--because of snow, and we finally had it this past Wednesday.

Sewing the strips on was probably the fastest part. The finishing details, like hemming the edges and so forth, seemed like they took forever, but I finally finished it this evening. I used a Moda jelly roll for the strips, and because I liked how they looked in the roll, I pretty much peeled them right off the roll and sewed them onto the batting in the same order. I really like this.

The idea is that you can lay the bag out flat, pile your quilts on it, then draw up the ends of the bag with the cording and velcro the top shut for travel. The bag is fairly large, and since I make a lot of big quilts, I think it will work out pretty well.

Credit where credit is due: "Quilt Carry Bag", from the book Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Crafty Day

Today was my monthly meeting for embroidery group, and we learned how to make an embossed design. Embossing is heavy stitching on a napped fabric like terry cloth or fleece, which mats down the background so the primary design stands out. Monograms and lettering are a popular way to use the embossing technique, so I stitched out this little "home" design on a hand towel. It looks a little shiny in the picture because I haven't rinsed out the stabilizer yet. I really love the effect. It's hard to resist the urge to go around the house embroidering every towel I own.

I am in the mood to make small quilts these days, so this afternoon I worked some more on this crocus pattern. I'm making the mini size, which finishes to 14" x 16". I started it only three days ago, so I'm making good progress.

The pattern is from Eileen Sullivan's Designer's Workshop. She has a whole series of different flower patterns, and I think I probably own all of them. She just released two new ones, Daisies and Coneflowers, which are on my wish list.