Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Farewell to Feathers

I didn't get as much practice as I could have with free-motion feathers this month, but I did use today's snow cancellation as an opportunity to quilt an entire 21" square with very tight feather motifs. Not too bad for a beginner. (I'm focusing on the positive here - there's PLENTY of room for improvement.) I am pretty bad at the echo quilting, which I'd really like to do better, because I'd like to do some Sol Lewitt line quilts eventually. I think the process will be significantly easier once my machine is recessed into the desk. Right now even the little quilts like this one get stuck moving up and over the bed; it's hard to keep tight, even spacing when the quilt is jumping herky-jerky all over the place... I'm eager to start both a new color (good-bye green, hello pink!) and a new FMQ motif (farewell to feathers, greetings to ???).

Close-up of the back, where the quilting shows fairly well:

The front is nothing special, but now I have one in red and one in green; this will be a nice scrap quilt by the end of the year.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free Motion February

Due to the unexpected loss of my spring-activated free-motion foot, I didn't get a lot of FMQ practice in February. I did replace it eventually, however, but only yesterday so I haven't had too much time for finishing things. The only project that I managed to complete using February's feather motif was my scrappy placemat (green for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color). I'm obviously not an expert in this motif, but overall I was impressed that I was able to make something that looked "feathery" at all.

I used some old Guterman quilting thread on the top, but it felt like rough rope compared to the Sulky blendables and the fine Aurifil I've been using more recently. I used a gray Aurifil in the bobbin so I could see the motif better.

I don't know why I'm getting all those little nests every time I start a new feather. I'll have to work on that when I quilt the green 21" square that's all ready to go.

Finished noodles

I finished the scrappy red noodle quilt! I did a very simple loop-de-loop quilting across each pair of rows, which was very good free-motion practice. By the thirteenth or fourteenth strip, my stitches were getting pretty even, and the motif was becoming nice and regularly spaced.

Then, with one strip to go, Something Very Bad happened...I don't know if the needle loosened or bent just a hair, or if the springs on my free-motion foot broke, but I heard a loud CLUNK and a beep and got the dreaded MAIN MOTOR OVERLOAD - PLEASE WAIT message on my machine. NO!!!!!! Turns out the needle had driven right through the plastic foot, which is now garbage. (Actually, it's in the pile of "vaguely mechanical-looking junk that my kids can use to make steampunk art.")

I did manage to finish this quilt with floating free motion using my embroidery foot, but it's a lot jumpier doing it that way. My February FMQ practice has been severely limited but, on the bright side, I did get a very nice quilt finished and ready to donate.

A query for you quilters out there: do you label quilts that you make for charity? What info do you put on them?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Group Quilt: Part 2

Fantastic quilting bee today working on Newington's group quilt. We have the entire top half assembled, as well as a big chunk of the middle. I think with one more good solid work evening we'll get this thing done. Many thanks to Ginger, Diane, Linda, Joan, Marlene, Claudia, and Jean for their hard work today (and of course to Lisa for the space) - it's looking spectacular! Somebody is going to win a real sparkler of a quilt!

More scraps

I spent Friday night taming the never-ending scrap bin. I am realizing that it has become such a disaster primarily due to my laziness in not wanting to fold anything smaller than a fat quarter. NEVER AGAIN. I did a little scrap assembly on Saturday morning, resulting in the center of my postage stamp quilt. This is a fifteen-inch block with 225 one-inch squares - see the quarter at the bottom?!

Also scrap-related, my largest hexagons are already sewn into strips. That went a lot faster than I had anticipated.

February is rapidly screeching to a halt, and I see that the only things still on my monthly (quilt-related) to-do checklist involve free-motion quilting, which got a little delayed because I broke my free motion springy foot. :(

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Assembling a Group Quilt

Tonight we began the process of putting together the extraordinarily varied collection of blocks for my quilt chapter's annual group quilt. Lisa was kind enough to let us use her shop for this task. Here's the assortment just slapped up onto the wall willy-nilly:
It's quite a variety, and quite a challenge to put these all into one cohesive quilt top. Lisa, Ginger, Anna, Marlene, and I spent most of this evening arranging and re-arranging the blocks to find a workable layout. We did a little sewing, a little un-sewing, a little re-sewing, and got a very nice start...but we're going to need a few more work days to pull this all together. Here's what we left on the walls:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February Color Palette Challenge

The photograph selected for February's Color Palette challenge was, as my husband would say, right in my wheelhouse.

Diving into the stash for these colors was not hard for me; in fact, the biggest "challenge" was limiting myself to a relatively small size project that I could finish within one month. I pulled out the last yard or two of this beautiful autumn leaf fabric that had all the perfect shades, even the darkest purple and a bare splash of the lightest lime - I think I had purchased six or seven yards of that fabric a few years ago, and now all that's left is the barest scraps that I'll cut into tiny bricks later this week. I've been wanting to make another quilt in the style of Carol Taylor's Going in Circles since I took her class three years ago. Making all the small circles and the four quadrants of the inner circle took an evening of very messy (and fun) sewing. It took another night to put the whole top together and baste it. The spiral quilting was the real time-consuming part - there is a LOT of thread on this little quilt. I had some tension issues with one of the threads, but there are only a few small loopies showing on the back so I'm not going to rip it out. The center circles aren't quite as circular as they could have been, but overall I'm still happy with the effect. The metallic copper in the border is really shiny and frames these gorgeous colors perfectly. It's interesting to compare the different proportion of colors in the photo and the quilt. My husband has plans to redecorate his office, and he mentioned that he might appropriate this one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Attacking the green scraps

I jumped right in on the green scraps for the Rainbow Scrap challenge. I decided to start this month with the noodle quilt, which turned out to be a great opportunity to do an inventory of the green bin, which is approaching overflow. I really like green, so I do tend to buy more of this color. The noodles came out great this time; I tried adding the little 2" squares between each strip, and I really like this effect.

After figuring out what was good yardage and what was ridiculously small scraps, I cut a bunch of small hexagons to make this month's placemat:
and a Dresden ring:
and the six inch blocks for the scrappy quilt that I still haven't scanned in:
and the 21" square that I'll use for my free-motion challenge sampler quilt:
and some basic green squares for another scrappy rainbow charm quilt:
There's more to show (including some finished items!!), but I'll post separately about the other things.