Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cross My Hearts: A Finished Quilt

Do you remember the less-work patchwork hearts I posted back in January? Let me jog your memory. I used some Pellon ultra lightweight fusible interfacing and a clever shortcut to sew up some big heart blocks and posted a corresponding tutorial. I planned to incorporate the hearts in a throw-size quilt, and I’m happy to reveal that finish today ...


There are many things to celebrate with this finished quilt. I used a bunch of scraps in the hearts and pulled almost all the other fabric from my stash. I quilted the fabric that was fused with the Pellon product with success. Now I have a throw I can gift to a friend who has no idea it’s coming her way. Just-because gifts are the best, aren’t they?

To learn how I piece my backs, click here.

I do want to share a few thoughts on the particulars of this project—in case you have some interfacing in hand and are plotting your own shortcut quilt ...

Fabric fused with interfacing behaves differently than straight-up quilting cotton. 

Most of the time, we use interfacing to make a fabric more substantial, to give it body and a firmer hand. That’s great for a bag project, but if you interface your quilting cottons, you can’t fudge things you might otherwise. There isn’t any give, making the fabric less willing to be coaxed into submission.


If you’re going to fuse your blocks, you’ll have to fuse the whole quilt top.

When I started making my pixelated blocks, the quilt design wasn’t fully developed. Once I decided upon the big solid squares and sashing, I knew I had to back them with the same interfacing. The Pellon product doesn’t drastically change the hand of quilting cotton, but it does add some weight and a quilt top of some fused fabrics and other nonfused fabrics wouldn’t have worked.

It wasn’t hard to fuse the interfacing to those other fabrics, but it seemed to defeat the idea of using the interfacing with the heart blocks to save time. And I did have a leftover heart block. Incorporating it in the quilt back wasn’t an option—there was no way I would interface the yards of other fabric I used there!

Amazon Prime’s contracts with the BBC may affect your productivity with such a project.

I decided to rewatch Doctor Who, starting with season one, before embarking on this project. Before I finished the quilt and the series, Amazon’s contract for the show expired. Bah! This quilt’s name—Cross My Hearts—is a nod to my favorite two-hearted alien. : )

What do you do while you sew? Do you Zen out and become one with your project, or do you, like me, need a distraction? I’m in between streaming shows right now and have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack instead. Any suggestions?

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Technique: How I Piece My Backs

I love the look of a pieced quilt back. In fact, there have been times when I’ve had enough of one fabric to make an entire back and have chosen to cut up that yardage, incorporate other fabrics, and piece one instead.

What’s better than one pretty fabric on the back of a quilt?
Many pretty fabrics!

When it’s time to make my back, the recipe I follow is simple. I take a 2-yard cut of fabric and cut it length-wise. (I don’t bother removing the selvages.) I don’t like things to be too symmetrical, so I’ll cut the length about 25 inches from the left edge.

Then I figure out how much fabric I’ll need to add to the center to accommodate the width of the quilt top. I head to my stash, and sometimes my scrap bin, to find coordinating bits. I sew them up in a column and attach the sides.

Everything is laid out and ready to be sewn.

I like this approach because it produces a chunky back, one that doesn’t compete with the top for the spotlight and one that’s not too fiddly to sew.

This technique also helps me be a smarter stasher. When I find a fabric on sale that would work well as the main fabric in a pieced back, I buy a 2-yard cut of it. Most of my quilts are throws, so by buying 2 yards, I’m stashing enough fabric to cover the length of a throw-size quilt plus a few inches of overage.

Ta da! One lovely pieced back.

Not all my backs work out this way. There are those for which I needed to sew a 2-yard swath of fabric before cutting it length-wise and adding the center column ...

Click here to read more about Bring on the Dancing Horses

There are those for which I sewed something similarly chunky without following the 2-yard recipe ...

Click here to read more about Good Day Sunshine.

And there are those that included multiple miscuts, small bits of fabric, and headaches all around ...

Click here to read more about Lotus Blossom.
 
How about you? Do you piece your backs? And if you do, what trends can you identify in your approach?

To see the finished quilt that goes with the pink and purple back at the top of the post, visit again soon. If the weather cooperates, I’ll take pictures and write a post later this week. : )

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

When You Can’t See the Forest for the Fabric-y Trees

Read the Tutorial: Bring on the Dancing Horses

These days, I am getting things done. I’ve finished three quilts so far this year, and I have two more throw-size projects I want to wrap up—basted, quilted, and bound—by mid-April. After that, it will be time to start some new projects. Yippee!

But first, here is finish #3. You might remember it from last year’s blog hop with the Fat Quarter Shop. It’s my Bring on the Dancing Horses Quilt. I made another version using Bonnie and Camille’s Hello Darling line. This quilt features the duo’s Daysail.


Can I be honest with you? Daysail may be my least favorite B&C fabric collection. (First and foremost, I’m a Happy Go Lucky girl. Ack—I wish I had bought more of it when it was available!) I’m drawn to some of the fabrics in Daysail, though ...

The marriage of crosshatches and dots? Love! The buoys? So sweet and stashable!


But these stripes? Those catamarans? I would never, ever buy them as yardage.


There’s a lesson in this, though. Now that I see the finished quilt, I look at those same not-so-me fabrics differently and decide that this quilt is a keeper. I think part of this change of heart has to do with simply sewing with Daysail. It’s easy to pass judgment on fabrics when they’re sitting on the bolt, but after working with them, after realizing their potential in my quilt design, I see them through a different lens. Those fabrics that weren’t stars in their own right have a place in the overall line and a place in my quilt. The strong geometry of the bold stripes and the chunky catamaran fabric, for example, is the perfect complement to the sailboats I would have overlooked if I encountered them in a local quilt shop. I wonder how many amazing fabric designs I’ve passed by because I couldn’t see past how they appear on the bolt?

I will leave you with two parting thoughts, dear reader. First off, I’m forecasting a new trend at From Bolt to Beauty. It’s the mostly monochromatic pieced back. This one—in teals from Denyse Schmidt, Joel Dewberry, Tula Pink, and others—makes me super happy.


Second—and if you follow this blog, you know this is a big deal—I’m starting to like the quilting part of quilt making. I’ve realized that how much I enjoy the quilting is inversely proportional to how many stitches I need to unpick. If I take my time and start quilting in the center of a quilt instead of sewing from edge to edge, I am a happier quilter. Sure, there are lots of threads to bury, but I don’t recall ripping out more than a few stitches here and there in this project.


How about you? What kind of quilting makes your heart sing?

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday ...

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