Friday, April 29, 2011

quilt designing second post

All of these images came from my limited knowledge of Electric Quilt 6. Click on any image to see a larger image. I choose a 4 patch block 8-inches square. There is method to this madness. I want to use up some more of the gingham blocks Mother had made and the next group is pink.

In this quilt design I decided to use the 4 patch in every other space and use a light pink fabric in the plain 8-inch square. The dimensions for the finished top are 64" by 88". Which is real close to the chart in All-in-one Quilter's Reference Tool book for a twin with a 12" drop. It's okay but what can we do with it.

Well no. 2 is a 4 patch for every block. Ah, no thank-you! Next!

No. 3 is a little easier on the eyes. What I did was rotate ever other block, but still not what I'm looking for.

No.4 back to every other block and added a 4-inch border. Nicer I could live with this. Wonder what sashing between the blocks would look like?

No. 5 no border, a 4 patch block in every square with 1-inch sashing and cornerstones. This is way better than No. 2. I think it could be improved upon though.

No. 6 same thing with a 5'' borders on the sides and 3.5'" borders top and bottom. Once again improvement but it still doesn't float my boat.

No. 7 added a second border sides 4" top and bottom 2.5". I could probably live with this. What else can we come up with?

No. 8 is a definite, wonder what that would look like. The 4 patch blocks and 1" border are the same size as the top of a twin mattress. The orchid border is the 12-inch drop. I would have to see this laid out on a bed before I could give it a yeah or nay.

Okay let's look at these blocks on point. No. 9 doesn't hurt my eyes, could be livable but it doesn't make me want to make it, as well as it is too small at 56.5 by 79.2-inches.

No. 10 has a border with 3.25" sides and the top and bottom at 4". The contrasting solid blocks also help a lot.

No. 11 this is what happens when you add green sashings and black cornerstones with 4 patch blocks to each blank square. More visual interest. I started to get excited here, this one is do-able for me. Would a border improve it?

No.12 this border is entirely too wide. It is not a multiple of the block. The multiples of 8 are 1,2,4,and 8. Borders and sashings that don't fall into multiples of a block tend to jar the senses.

This leads us to No. 13. I added 2 more borders to break up the one large one. The inside border of black is 1"; the middle border is 2". The outside border is actually 3" it looks pretty good to me so I would have to audition the last border before I cut and sewed it on. I would fold a piece 3" wide lay it against the quilt top and then a 4" piece to see what I liked best. I also figured out how to get the miter feature to work in EQ6. Yeah!

This is how I design a quilt. Lots of trying different lay-outs until I come up with one that I would like to put together. I'm sure there are easier ways to do design, I just don't know of them.

I like the last one the best so in the next post I will show you how to figure block sizes and how much fabric I'll need. Add then how to pick fabrics to complement the gingham I am working with.

Have a good day!


P.S. It may take me a few days to get back to the computer. The ground looks like it has dried up enough for me to get some gardening done. Judy

quilt designing

Part of Leslie's e-mail stated she wanted to learn ". . .from choosing the right material to choosing the right pattern. . ." Ah, the quilt design process. I don't know a quilter that doesn't have some insecurity or trepidation with this part of quilting. This is where nothing is cut and dried like 1/4-inch seam allowances and even that can be subject to interpretation. How do you choose the right fabric or pattern? Well the answers are 'it depends' or with another question 'What do you want to make?'

Let's say we got a dozen quilters together and we were going to explore the 1,000 or so quilt blocks the Kansas City Star published from 1928 to 1961. We decided that we would start with the 9-patch block, one of the simplest block patterns out there. We would have a dozen different quilts, with and without borders, with and without sashing, with and without cornerstones, some blending color from one corner to the other. Each one unique, different, and all are beautiful. If the concept was with fabrics instead of blocks. The same thing happens, same fabrics but a dozen very different quilts. You could even pin it down to fabrics and blocks, and still get a dozen different quilts. 'It depends' on your vision or interpretation of the givens.

A lady I took a quilt class from showed us a quilt she had made with the quilt block the Mexican Star and a half-dozen fabrics. She had nine blocks each one featuring a different fabric combination. She liked them all and came to the realization none was the answer to her quilt question and all were 'right'. She kept the quilt hanging on her wall in her quilt studio to remind her there is no perfect combination of fabric and block. Just choices!

With all this said what can you do to narrow down your chooses? Quilt design software is real handy for auditioning all the possibilities without cutting a piece of fabric. Pick a block and play with it; add sashing, add cornerstones, add borders, everything in different widths, mix and match. Then add color, the possibilities are endless. Find a design you like and make it. If you are like me as I build the quilt I will have moments of inspiration and change something. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. For the ideas that don't work out lay the fabric aside you can use it latter in some other quilt.

Here are two quilt design programs:
Jinny Breyer Studio has one that is free and some neat tips.
Edit: I played around in this program it is only good for the blocks she has posted.
I have Electric Quilt 6 and it is a fun program to play around in. I need to use it more so when I have an idea I can get out of the program what I see in my minds-eye.
Of course 1/4-inch graph paper, mechanical pencil, pink pearl eraser and a ruler are what I revert to when I get frustrated with my lack of skills in EQ6:>)

I am a very concrete person when I make a quilt. I will know whom I am making it for. I will know their favorite colors and a size. Or someone handed me some quilt blocks and I need to set the quilt together. I use the color scheme of the blocks to pick out the fabrics for the rest of the quilt. I just don't walk into my sewing room and say today I'm going to make a quilt. Even when I make a quilt for Project Linus I know the quilt is for a child and the sizes they find most useful.

Quilt Blocks

Look for quilt blocks in the beginning that have no curves and no complicated seam lines or structure. If you stick to squares and right-triangles you built confidence. In fact, I would bet 50 to 75% of all quilt blocks are make with those two geometric shapes. If you find a quilt block you like, like Attic Window look around and see if someone has simplified the block for straight seams. They probably have!

Let me go back to Kansas City Star Blocks for a comment. Eve Ross (one of the Haysville Library quilter) warned me to make a sample block before I cut all my pieces for a quilt because some of the pattern pieces were out of proportion. Latter I cut out an entire quilt's worth of Apple Core blocks using a Kansas City Star pattern. The pattern was a 1/4 of an inch off! I then remembered what Eve had said. Ouch! Lesson learned. The take away here is before you cut a quilts worth of fabric, make one sample block to see if the block will go together as planned. This goes for any pattern that prints templates!

Places to find blocks. There are tons of books out there. Thumb through them and see how many of the blocks appeal and if the instructions make sense to you. Two useful books are 'The Quilter's Catalog' by Meg Cox, not many block patterns but everything else to do with quilting and 'All-in-one Quilter's Reference Tool' by Hargrave, Craig, Anderson, and Aneloski this one is all the charts you need. Design programs will have a ton of block patterns, not to mention the internet.

The quilter's Cache is probably my favorite of free quilt block sites.
There is Free Quilt Patterns, About. com, Block Central, and tons more just type in your search engine 'free quilt patterns'.

Battings and Quilting

How fluffy do you want your quilt? How heavy is the top and backing? How are you going to quilt it? How close together do you want the quilting? All part of the design process.

If you were going to machine quilt your quilt in your home sewing machine I would recommend using traditional loft batting. I love a quilt done with high loft batting. It really shows all of the quilting pattern and is extra warm. However, it is a pain in the home sewing machine. It is too tight in the throat of the machine and puckers badly. With hand quilting I get all the definition I am looking for. I also get low loft batting when I want a lighter (less warm) quilt.

Polyester, wool, or cotton batting? For a very traditional look get cotton and don't preshrink it. For a baby quilt or something you know that is going to be washed frequently I would get polyester. I don't recommend the 80/20 batting if you have respiratory problems. I thought it was too dusty. There are some battings out there that look like a blanket that are very easy to work with and you can space your quilting up to 8-inches apart. I have never worked with wool batting so I have no recommendation on it except that my experiences sewing with wool leads me to believe that a lot of fiber would be in the air. I have read about bamboo blend battings but haven't tried any but I any very curious.

I have mentioned machine quilting in your home machine and hand quilting there is another option that is, taking you quilt to have it machine quilted. I've seen some really nice work with long-arm quilting. I don't have the financial resources to indulge very often, so currently I am doing most of my quilting in my home machine. I love to hand quilt but it is time consuming so that is a consideration. Here is another consideration you can quilt-as-go or quilt the whole top at one time. My preferred method of machine quilting is quilt-as-go using the 'Crazy Short-Cut method'. (Yes, it works with traditionally pieced blocks.) I have used the other quilt-as- go methods and thought it was fiddly. I can see where this method would be very good if I was hand quilting in a RV, baseball games and such. (By the way Rose Smith and Marguerita McManus has some other wonderful videos.)

Quilts that don't need batting are Cathedral Windows. These quilts are very heavy; in fact, I have seen recommendations not to make the cathedral windows any larger than the top mattress because of the weight. Use a very wide border to get the drop you want and quilt the drop. Crazy quilt is another one that traditionally doesn't get batting because of the way it is constructed. Anything done in denim or heavy fabrics wouldn't get batting.


Okay, here I am going to open a can of worms. 100% cotton is the fabric of choice. I would agree with that, but here is where I deviate. Your fabric doesn't have to come from a quilt shop. You do want to understand the difference between fabrics from a quilt shop and Wally-world type places. The differences are the quality of fabric (thread count) and the amount of dye. Which brings us back to the questions what is the purpose of the quilt and how will it be cared for? If you are making an heirloom quilt with your grandmother's embroidered blocks the quilt shop is where I go to get the range of colors I need to match the embroidered blocks. But if I'm making a quilt for the kids to cover-up with to watch TV and spill beverages on. I want something I can throw in the washing machine and dryer without panicking.

Silk and wool are used at times in quilts. The most popular way is in crazy quilts.

Okay, I have blathered on about the subject of quilt design but haven't shown you anything. So tomorrow (cause this post is long enough) I will show you how to put something on paper so you can go fabric shopping or stash diving.

Have a good day!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some ideas for quilting

I sent an e-mail to Leslie of Motherhood in Mexico blog asking her what she was curious about the subject of quilting. I know, loaded question! LOL Her response? "I would love to learn everything there is to know about quilting, from choosing the right material to choosing the right pattern." Loaded answer and typical of anyone who isn't sure where to start. So in a series of posts I want to explore how to make a quilt from my point of view. And any of you out there who quilt are encouraged to weight in with your thoughts because there is no one way to do any craft.

Leslie also made this comment,

"My Hubby owns an upholstery shop and always has a bunch of fabric swatches that he uses to show his customers what's available. Of course, the swatches he uses change from time to time and we are left with the old swatches. These swatches measure about 6 x 8 inches and vary in color and texture. I know that they aren't really quilting material, but I would hate to see all of that fabric go to waste and I would love to be able to make something beautiful out of them, like a quilt. Any suggestions you have to offer would be greatly appreciated. "

Okay, the swatches are not 100% cotton quilt material, no big deal. All kinds of fabric have been used in quilts and comforts. I'm assuming these swatches are closer to denim in weight and structure. I suggested Leslie launder her swatches to preshrink, look for color-fastness, fraying and things of that nature along with ironing the swatches afterward to see if they would handle the heat. And based on my assumption of a heavier weight fabric I would use a 1/2-inch seam allowance to help support the weight and structure of the fabric. The classic 1/4-inch seam allowance for quilts will probably allow the edges of the blocks to pull out at the seam allowances with use.

Here are some suggestions for laying out her blocks. I cut some fabric 6 x 8 inches and laid the blocks out staggering the seams. With heavier materials this creates less bulk where one set of seams intersect a column of blocks. As Kaye Woods says, "This if for the non-pointy people." LOL If you want the all seams to intersect at a given point go for it. Just remember it will cause extra bulk where all the seams intersect. It will take about 100 blocks for a 48 x 72-inch afghan with no borders. Don't have enough blocks? My treatment of the red and white gingham quilt could be a solution. If you had scraps left over from some project those could be sewn together in long strips.

Here I cut blocks 6 by 6 inches and laid them out in a random fashion for a charm quilt. Or you could put color families together like I did in the diamond quilt or even the blue and white gingham quilt. Bulk at the corners could be a problem.

Here I made right triangles with the 6 by 6 blocks. I wouldn't make more than one cut to the blocks because of the bulky seam issue. You could put sashing strips between the blocks. Sashings spread the blocks out and reduce bulk of seams. See where there are eight seams coming together at one place? This could be a real hassle to sew over. You could spread each little block out put a sashing around each one that would look nice. Maybe turning all the blocks so the run the same direction. If the right triangle idea appeals to you here is a you-tube video that does a good job of explaining how to do it with big squares.

As you can see there are tons of ways to use the fabric you have to make tops with. There is no one perfect layout. The question is what looks good to you? What do you want to create? Then just do it!

Note: Using a sheet to lay-out your quilt on is very beneficial when using the floor or a bed to design on because if you have to move the quilt top before it is sewn together you don't lose that design. And if you are still not sure about the placement of blocks you can fold it up let your idea ferment a day or two. Unfold it and see if you still like it before you start sewing it up or move blocks around to something else.

Always remember creating is what makes us human.

Have a good day!


Monday, April 25, 2011

my tappan zee sweater

As you can see I am making progress on my sweater. I transferred all the stitches to some waste yarn and tried it on again with some trepidation. WaaHoo it fits! I just started the second skein of the beige. I have about a half-skein of the plum left and I figure I will have about half a skein of the third beige left when I get done with the body of the sweater. So I am going to start with the half skein of plum on the sleeves and finish however far I get on the sleeves with the left over beige. Well back to it!

Have a good day!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the prom mask

There was a request for a more detailed look at the mask that I made for Sister Suzy's prom dress.

Bags of fiberfill make nice models! LOL Google Search came to the rescue again! Did you know there are several different types of masks out there? Me neither! What I liked the best were the Venetian style. What I made was a variation of a Zorro mask. (Think TV program)

This is rough diagram with dimension of her face and head. I made several patterns and proto-types before I got something I liked.

This is a photo of most of the materials I used for the pattern making and the mask. Not in the photo are the dull satin scraps from her dress. I spent an extra $3.50 for the ribbon and package of "Bling" (the red scrolls and beads). I used six inches of 1/2" elastic in a casing across the back of the mask.

I discovered that to get the mask to lay smoother on her face I needed to make the bottom of the mask wider. I cut some relief cuts in the bottom of the mask spreading it out a little and putting a slight curve across the top of the mask. It fit her face much nicer.

I then cut out one motif from the lace scraps of her jacket. Then arranged it around one eye, pinning it all together with the muslin to two layers of the black satin. Cutting the mask out. Pinned right sides of the satin together sewing up the straight edges. Turned it right side out. I used a white quilt marking pencil to trace the eyeholes. Pinned on the lace. Then satin stitched the lace on and around the eyeholes. Cut the eye holes out and attached the elastic enclosed in a casing to the back. Then I turned the mask over to Sister Suzy to decorate with the trim pieces we had purchased.

After she was done with the mask I cut two pieces of ribbon and attached it to the mask. I think some black ribbon would have looked great with the mask. I wish I had had some. I also wonder if more red ribbon would have looked better. All and all, Sister Suzy and I were very pleased in how the mask turned out.

Thanks Evielynne for asking about the details!

Have a good Day!