Friday, February 14, 2020

Success with Free-Motion Quilting / Beauties Pageant 69

I’ve talked to a lot of free-motion quilters over the past few years, and each one has a unique take on the secret to his or her success. All of them agree on one thing, however: Getting good at free-motion quilting (FMQ) requires practice.

And that’s not something I invest my time in. Every year or two, I decide that I’ve had it with my walking foot and need to get serious about FMQ. I watch videos and read blog posts. I consult my quilting library and practice on quilt sandwiches. Then I do a project and forget about FMQ for another chunk of time. Regular practice—and the muscle memory that comes with it—doesn’t happen.

But I think I might stick with FMQ this time! I stippled an entire baby quilt this past week and am pretty pleased with the results.

I’ve tried different approaches with FMQ—like marking quilting lines and using stencils—and I tried some new tricks with this quilt. I even cut down a snow carpet for my endeavors, but it caused more problems than it solved for me. What ended up working was (1) not marking anything, (2) starting at the bottom of the quilt and working my way up, and (3) allowing myself as many stops as I needed to readjust the quilt sandwich. I watched an Angela Walters videos on FMQ, and she said, for a successful stipple, quilt in “a lot of different directions: up, down, left, and right.” For whatever reason, thinking of stippling in that way hit home for me, helping me navigate the quilting on this project.

I give my efforts a solid B, which I think is pretty darn good! I managed to achieve a lot of gentle curves with my stipple, and any awkward spots are well concealed by the many prints on both sides of the quilt. My machine is a tension master, so I didn’t experience any eyelashes on the back. I did, however, encounter an occasional skipped stitch, which I couldn’t remedy. (I rethreaded my machine using a new needle and still had issues. Any suggestions?)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that some scary stuff happened at my house recently. (If you don’t, everything is fine now; both of my children are accounted for.) I needed a triumph, and this project was exactly that.

Another flimsy is waiting in the wings. It’s a project that would benefit from the curves of an all-over stipple in a larger scale than I used on this baby quilt. I hope to tackle it soon—wish me luck!

I used Cluck Cluck Sew’s strip-and-flip baby quilt tutorial for this project. To learn how to make your own, click here.

To see my past FMQ projects, read:

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Vinyl See-It-All Pouches / Beauties Pageant 68

This past week I spent some time doing one of the things I do best: making a bunch of small projects into one big project.

My original plan was to make two zipper pouches for friends who will be attending QuiltCon later this month and fill them with silly items that will remind those friends of our past QuiltCon adventures. I followed the pattern for Aneela Hoey’s See-It-All Pouch, from her Stitched Sewing Organizers. The pattern calls for one 10-inch zipper per pouch, but I had five 10-inch zippers on hand. So, I started up the assembly line—after all, busting one’s stash includes busting one’s zipper hoard.

I cut into some Kokka fabric, designed by Ellen Baker, that has been aging in my stash since 2013 for the first two pouches. Apparently, it can take seven years to find the right project for a fabric.

Then I used up some bits of a Rifle Paper Co. print for pouch #3 ...

And cut into a mystery fabric (middle, below) and some yardage from Rae Hoekstra’s Lotus line (far right, below—in the stash since 2014!) for the fourth and fifth pouches.

This was my first time sewing with vinyl, and it wasn’t a big deal. I had some issues when finishing the binding on the pouches, though. I attached the binding to the back and finished by machine-sewing the binding from the front, and I couldn’t get the bobbin thread to stay on the binding on the back, especially at the curves. (The straight pieces of binding along the zipper were easy-peasy.) It wasn’t a problem that got better with each pouch, and I had to accept I was doing the best I could. Some sewers would look at the backs and think they are perfect as is. I just like precision with finishing details like that.

You’re welcome to skip this numbered list. There are my notes to my future self for sewing with vinyl in general and sewing this pattern in particular!

1. Iron the vinyl to address any wonkiness when it comes off the roll—just use a lower heat setting with a pressing cloth, and weight the vinyl to cool.

2. Use a bigger needle size (I used a 14 here) and a longer stitch length.

3. Cover vinyl that comes in direct contact with the feed dogs or presser foot with tissue paper. The tissue paper prevents the vinyl from sticking and easily tears away after sewing.

4. Use a 3/8-inch seam for attaching the binding to the back instead of the scant 1/2-inch seam called for by the pattern. (Hmmm ... that may be part of my binding sadness, though. Perhaps I should try a scant 3/8-inch seam for a sixth pouch?)

5. Remember that you’re perforating the vinyl when you sew it, so you have only a few times to pick out stitches and resew without undermining the integrity of the vinyl. If you need to resew the final strip of binding, you can always trim away from the perimeter of the pouch so the next set of holes hits at different spots on the vinyl.

Have you sewn with vinyl? I no longer have any 10-inch zippers in my stash, but I had to buy the vinyl for these pouches and have some left over. (How is that for irony? I used up all my zippers of a particular size but now am stuck with leftover vinyl.) I would love to hear any recommendations you have for using that vinyl up! : )

Linking up to TGIFF at Sarah Goer Quilts ...

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Friday, January 31, 2020

Seeing Double / Beauties Pageant 67

The Show Me Something Purple Linkup, hosted by Sarah Goer, was the kick in the pants I needed to finish my fifth and final version of Camille Roskelley’s Little Man Quilt, from her Simplify book.

Why five versions of the same baby quilt pattern? Because it’s an easy pattern whose yardage requirements are easily met by the fabric I have on hand. The first three versions I sewed were all for little boys (see them here, here, and here). My fourth and fifth quilts are going to sisters: This purple finish is for my 4-year-old niece, and its peach and blue counterpart (see picture below) is going to her little sister, who is scheduled to arrive by this time next week.

What I like so much about this pair is that they’re completely different quilts made from the same line of fabric, Rae Ritchie’s Seaside Carnival. The only print they have in common is the strip of ocean waves, a fabric by Janet Clare. You can see it at the top of this picture ...

My favorite print from the entire Rae Ritchie collection—beating out even the soft pretzels, featured in my fourth version—has proved to be the mermaids. Dear Stella has released that design in a different colorway, and I’m trying to come up with an excuse to buy some!

You would think that a fifth go-round with the same pattern would make me an expert, but I made more mistakes with this dang purple quilt than the others combined ... First, when I was quilting it, I realized that there is a discrepancy in dye lots: Two blocks are ever-so-slightly different from the other ones. The disparity is most noticeable in artificial light, and I fear it will become more prominent with each washing. I also had a weird experience squaring up the project after quilting. Until I remedied the situation, the quilt was more parallelogram than rectangle. Sigh. It’s a sign. After five finishes with the same pattern, it’s time to find another go-to baby quilt pattern!

DonnaleeQ was recently expressing a similar gripe to me via email. She said after 30 years of quilting, she still makes the occasional silly mistake. Whereas my pitfalls were dye lots and squaring up, she managed to cut a stack of squares the wrong size. (Been there, done that!) How about you? What amateur mistakes do you find yourself making, even after having sewn dozens if not hundreds of quilts?! Commiserate with the rest of us in the comments below. : )
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