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Showing posts with label BOM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BOM. Show all posts

Friday, March 2, 2018

Quilting is learning

Every quilting project is a learning experience. My latest one, an incomplete project, was no exception.

I actually wrote about this quilt –my calendar block of the month quilt--last month when I decided to finish it. http://chquilts.ozarkattitude.com/2018/01/pretty-doesnt-need-perfection.html I love doing block of the month (BOM) projects because they tend to keep me interested. Every month is a challenge. Because I started this in 2012, there were some real challenges for me because of some techniques I had never done before. I had never done paper piecing and hadn’t done too many appliques either. This had both.

This was the first BOM I ever did. I really enjoyed learning new techniques and practicing the skills I already knew. Piecing was difficult for me back then, as was matching seams and achieving perfect points. To be sure, I did neither in this project, but I did the best I could at the time. Thankfully, I have improved since then.

Although I loved making the individual blocks, I wasn’t so enamored with the quilt itself. It was smaller than I would have liked. It never occurred to me to add blocks or borders to increase its size. If I was to do another one like this, I would probably do both of those things. I thought this project had little cohesiveness. I was bothered that it all seemed so helter-skelter.

Now that I have finished it, I really like how it turned out. I am no longer “afraid” of all the colors in it. I’m pleased that it has a theme—months of the year-- which really is its cohesiveness. My thinking has evolved since I first looked at all these unrelated blocks. I’ve also grown in my color appreciation. I am no longer turned off by the many colors here.


Quilting the quilt

One of the hardest things to do for myself and many other quilters is to decide how to quilt the quilt. I’ve often heard it said, and I now agree, the quilt will tell you how to quilt it. I know how hokey this sounds, but it is true; the quilt will speak to you.

For example, I had no idea how I was going to quilt the February block.

I knew I wanted the cats to stand out. I was rather fond of this block because I happen to have four cats. So, I used a tiny stipple to make the background dense. I also densely quilted the hearts, so the cats themselves would come forward.

One of the cats had a seam that had come loose. So, I decided to quilt an outline around the heart shape, which in turn, would tame that seam. Worked out great. This remains one of my favorite blocks.


Another one that gave me fits was the July block. I decided to use a red, white, and blue variegated thread. Big mistake, but I didn’t learn until it was way too late.

The blue stars didn’t turn out quite like I wanted them too. The red and white portion of the thread shows up on the blue background, but the blue does not. The problem with the feathers was that the white portion of the thread just looked like an unquilted space. I decided to do what so many quilters tell you to do if you are unhappy with how something turns out. Just throw more thread at it. I did that and they look so much better without the blank spots. 

I had no idea what to do with those pesky bird houses depicting June. There were no holes for the birds to fly into, so that was the first thing I had to do. I wanted to quilt them all differently, so I looked at the fabric and let it tell me what to do. On the blue/yellow one, I quilted wonky lines, following the fabric grid. I did the same on the yellow roof. In order to add some cohesion to the block, I added diagonal lines for the background. So, all of them look like they belong together, but remain all different.

Another place I used the fabric print to guide the quilting was on the jar that is the September block. I’ve been asked what the significance of that is. I assumed the jar was chosen to depict jelly making or canning vegetables from the harvest. My quilt is mine though, so I chose my jar to be filled with bugs. It reminded me of catching lightening bugs when I was a little girl. The fabric has bugs on it. So, I simply drew circles around them, in a form of pebbling. I like how the texture turned out on this block.

And that was the approach I took to all of the blocks. I enjoyed thinking through some of these issues.

This was the biggest project I have made with free-motion quilting. Everyone says it can be done, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Normally, I do quilt-as-you-go project, where the quilting is done on each block and they are assembled afterward. This was done traditionally. Truthfully, I didn’t see any real problem with quilting the whole quilt. Oh, it did take a little more muscle to fit the bulk of the fabric in the tiny space, but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I’m no longer afraid of quilting a large quilt.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pretty doesn't need perfection

My latest quilting project is actually six years old--a quilt top I finished in 2012--a calendar quilt--with the 12 blocks representing each month of the year. Blocks were chosen by members of the Quiltingboard, an online quilter’s group that I joined just before starting this project.

This was my first Block of the Month (BOM) project, one of many I have done since. I love BOMs. Having something to quilt every month keeps me at my sewing machine and always gives me something to look forward to.

I admit that I was not really crazy about this quilt which is why it sat around for six years unfinished. But I am bound and determined to turn it into a pretty quilt.

It took me all these years to decide what to do with it. I admit I never really liked it. It is too small to put on the bed. I was never crazy about all those colors. And I thought it was rather busy for my taste. Frankly, it is not my best work either. 


I now recognize that perfection isn’t what makes a quilt pretty. And there is nothing wrong with lots of color, since it is all tied together by the black sashing strips. After all, it does have a theme to it. So, I’ve decided to enjoy this project for what it is. Never mind the wonky sashing strips or the less-than-perfect points. I am happy with the knowledge that this was an early endeavor and I’ve honed my skills since then. This can still be a very pretty quilt, once it is completed. Quilt tops are hard to judge anyway, because the quilting is where the magic happens. 

How bad can this be? Bug, alias Junior, our little 3-legged cat seems to like it. Funny she picked the October block to sit on. I suppose that block was meant to represent canning food from the harvest, but I used fabric with tiny bugs on my jar. It reminded me of catching lightning bugs when I was a little girl.
The more I think about this project, the happier I am to be finishing it. After all, it represents a few firsts for me. It was my first BOM. That first block for January used English paper-piecing, a technique I had never tried before. And this will be the first quilt I will free-motion quilt on my sewing machine that is bigger than a baby quilt. All of the others I have done have used the quilt-as-you-go method, whereby the blocks are quilted first and then sewn together to form the quilt. Because I’ve never worked on a whole quilt, I’m glad this is a small one. It will be good practice. I have another project waiting in the wings, a medallion quilt designed by Lynette Jennings previously mentioned in CHQuilts that I finished piecing last November. It is a Queen size quilt that I plan to free-motion quilt on my machine. 
     As I was cleaning my sewing area, de-linting my machine, and putting in a 
     new needle, as I always do before starting a new project, it started to snow. 
    his is an event in the Ozarks. What better way to enjoy this snowy day than 
    to quilt?

Today was a perfect day to begin working on this quilt. It marked the first time I touched my machine in 2018. I spray-basted the quilt top with its batting and backing fabric last week, so I was ready to start. Another first--I used my walking foot to stitch-in-the-ditch around each block and sashing strip. The quilt is now stabilized. So the fun is about to begin. Right now I have no idea what designs I will use in each block. I think I will figure that out as I go. I’m thinking I will use lots of colorful thread. I’m not afraid of color anymore. I’m getting a little excited. I think that despite the imperfections in this quilt, it is going to be pretty when it’s done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quilting challenges; jumping in with both feet

My quilting pursuit has led to an insatiable desire to further challenge myself. And, there are so many possibilities. It seems there are always new skills to practice and new ideas to ponder; there is always something to try that I haven't done before. From what I can see, quilting has no bounds.

This is such an exciting time to learn, not just about quilting, but whatever our interest. It is easier than ever before to get answers to each question that comes to mind. Just Google it. Someone has probably asked the same question already to which multiple answers are available.

For me, and my latest quilting obsession, my questions are often satisfied by the abundance of You Tube videos filled with instruction and inspiration. I'm so grateful to the many artists that have come forward to share information and techniques with the rest of us.

CHQuilts: Stars on Point quiltMy most recent quilt, 'Stars on Point,' was more to me than a comfy coverlet for the bed. It was a learning experience.

I learned new skills and honed some of those I had already become familiar with. I've already written about some of those in earlier posts, but to summarize, the following are just a few of my challenges from this project:
  • Moving bravely away from monochromatic projects; This is the first time I designed a two-color quilt.
  • More precise piecing; There is no end to the need for practice matching points and keeping seams straight. Precision is necessary in cutting, sewing, and pressing.
  • Practicing paper piecing; Some of these blocks were created using paper-piecing. I hated it when I first tried it. Now, I'm seeing how useful it can be and am anxious to further explore this technique.
  • Practice at free-motion quilting; I will always need to practice this skill. Thankfully, I have noticed an improvement since I first started. I am now more comfortable free-motion quilting. This is the second quilt I have done this way--as a quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) project, where the quilting is done before assembling the quilt rather than after. I'm hooked. I've learned that quilting is more than a way to anchor the piecing. It is a design element all its own, enhancing the look of the design.
  • First steps at modifying and enhancing a design; This was a Block-of-the-Month (BOM) project. When the year was over, there were 12 blocks that if sewn together and quilted traditionally would have made a perfectly acceptable and beautiful quilt. But I wanted more. So, I decided to set the blocks on-point, added 6 additional blocks and matching side triangles, to form a secondary pattern. Because the blocks are the same and form a linear pattern that travels across the quilt, they serve to draw the quilt together providing unity to what would have otherwise been just random blocks.
  • Laying out blocks on point, complete with figuring set in triangles; I have never done this before and didn't have the first idea how to start.
  • Carrying out the desired pattern into the set in triangles; I had no idea how to do this. Math equations, triangles and me, normally do not get along well, but I muddled through it.
  • Practice with Electric Quilt 5 (I bought it years ago and never used it); EQ5 saved me by allowing me to draw a template and figure the size pieces to cut for the setting triangles and corners.
  • Designing a pleasing patchwork backing; I wanted this quilt to be yellow and white gingham on the back, to be reversible, so I needed to follow a pattern on the front and on the back at the same time. I took digital pictures of the layout to help with that task.
The task at hand continues the challenge
CHQuilts: Black and white and pink all over quilt diagramI am currently working on Leah Day's Building Blocks Quilt Along, which I have also mentioned previously in CHQuilts. I've named it simply, "Black and white and pink all over."

The work on these quilt blocks is almost finished. The diagram at left isn't current, since I've already completed three of the six remaining blocks.

I've decided however, that it might be fun to challenge myself on this project as well. The blocks are going to finish at 8" x 8". There are 72 of them, so the quilt will be lap size. I've decided to add a few blocks to it. I have never made a quilt with varied sized blocks before, but that is my aim. I have no idea if this is going to work, or if it will look good until I lay it all out. I will do keep my fingers crossed.

CHQuilts: pink signature blockTo figure out dimensions and what I still need to accomplish my goal, I printed out this diagram. I cut out the individual blocks and pasted them onto graph paper, drawing in the additions. So far, I've sewed a couple of them. There will be a few 16" x 16" blocks, a some  4" x 4's" and perhaps a few 8" x 4" blocks.

My first endeavor was to add my favorite block--the double star block--which I refer to as my signature block. I have made several table runners using it and I have also put it into my last two quilts. This will make the third.

I just love everything about this block and I never tire of making it. I did, however, have to figure out how to cut the pieces to the right size since the instructions I have is for a 12" x 12" block. So, once again, I used EQ5 to draw the block and print out the proper dimensions. After many hours of trying to figure out the program again, it worked! This block is 16" x 16," so it will be one of three large blocks in the quilt.

CHQuilts: pink and black flying geeseI've pieced these three blocks, (left)--the second pic contains two 4" x 8" blocks--that will be used for fillers in this quilt. I haven't quilted them yet, but am thinking of an overall stippling design. I could probably stipple all day long. That is real progress, since the first time I did this overall meander stitch, it was anything but comfortable. Now, it feels perfectly natural.
CHQuilts: pink and black filler blocks
I enjoyed making these blocks. It was a day of mindless sewing as I was practicing making flying geese by sewing triangles together. That worked pretty well and this was the result. I was able to use up some scrap fabric, which also makes me really happy.

Waste not, want not!