Friday, 24 December 2010

Bargello Tutorial

Ready to get a CuttingEdgeQuilt-style bargello tutorial??

For the size bargello I did (sorry, I never had a chance to measure it - I estimate that it would fit a single bed), you'll need 20" of 16 different fabrics, plus border, backing, and binding (though I used leftover strips for a scrappy binding).

Pick 16 fabrics and sort them by colour. Can be prints, solids, small or big patterns. I picked half brown and half yellow/orange.

Cut 2.5" strips from each fabric. I'm pretty sure I cut 5 strips per fabric, but since I did my bargello without a plan or pattern, I added sets as I went along...

Lay your strips out in border and align the selvedges on one side (the left in the picture above). Sew the strips into pairs, starting your seam at the left, with the aligned selvedges.

Now sew the pairs of strips together, starting at the other end (where the selvedges are NOT aligned). To save fabric, I held the fabric strip pairs together so that the selvedges on the left were still aligned and then just pinned the other end (where the edges don't align) and started sewing there. That way, the selvedges on one side of all the strips are lined up, but not on the other (see below).

Lastly, I sewed the brown and yellow set together (right sides facing of course) to form a tube that's half brown and half yellow:

To make the joining of all the pieces easier, I worked with two strip tubes at a time. I pressed one one way, the other tube the opposite way (i.e. iron one light colours to dark, the other dark colour to light). Depending on how organized you are, my method will work for you, or you'll need to pin numbers and notes to identify all your strips. I'm much too lazy for that and would rather trouble shoot later than do all the planning work.

Trim the selvedges off one edge of the tubes to straighten out that edge, then start cutting strips off the strip tubes. Cut two strips of the same width at a time from tube 1 (pressedone way), this will be the mirrored strips on each side of your quilt, so they need to be the same width to match seams later! The cut two strips of tube 2 (pressedthe other way) of the same width.

I cut strips between 1" and 3.5" in width. 2" and 2.5" were easiest to work with, gave a nice wave and made the quilt grow quickly. Adding some 1-1.5" and 3-3.5" strip sets in between gives you a pointier (skinny strips) or shallower (wide strips) shape to the curves.

In the picture above, you can see that the bottom 3 strips are laid out with the seams pressed in alternating directions. That's important for matching up seams!

Because I did my first section of this quilt as an experiment, I matched all the seams when joining the strip sets. Big mistake! It looks fine but is a lot of work! I've since been told that you can also offset the strips by half a square (in this case offset by half of 2" (the final width of your 2.5" strips when sewn together)). Instead of ripping open a seam, you cut your strip loop in the middle of one colour. I've never tried this, but I imagine that sewing the strip sets together will be much easier and you don't have to worry about which way seams are pressed since they don't meet!

Here are my sections being sewn together...

I decided on my pattern/layout by turning the strip-loops right side out and arranging them to my liking (bottom of photo below). When I was confident that I liked the pattern, I cut them open at the appropriate seam for a final visual (at this point you can move strips or sew them back together to get a different layout) (see top of photo below).

So eventually you'll have all your strips for each half of the quilt laid out. Number them somehow! Whatever your system is, pins, pins with numbers, pieces of papers pinned on. Know which strip goes on which half of the quilt etc etc. Mind you, I had a few mishaps and they're easy enough to fix - hello seam reipp

Start sewing strips together, matching seams as shown below. Sew into pairs, then pairs of pairs etc. I like to abutt the seams and then pin through them diagonally to catch the raw edge on both sides. I remove the pin when I get to the seam. Watch that seams don't flip over while you're sewing over them - that gets bulky!

I sewed the strips into about 6 large sections (3 on each side of the quilt), then sewed those together to make the big quilt.

One thing I did different on this quilt, were the borders. Instead of attaching them to the center and then basting/quilting, I did it in a quilt-as-you-go style. I did that because of all the seams and the associated stretchiness of the quilt as well as being fed up sewing pieces together and feeling the urge to quilt instead :)

To do this, baste your quilt as you normally would, but leave enough backing and batting around the quilt center to accommodate a border or your choice. I left about 5-6" on all sides.

I then quilted the center right up to the edge. Then I measured the quilt top, cut borders to the right size, pinned them generously (i.e. lots of pins) wrong sides together to the quilt top and sewed through border/top/batting/backing all in one go with my walking foot. It meant that I didn't have to quilt the narrow borders I added and had a nice frame motif on the back. It was more bulk to maneuver through the machine, I have to admit, but I did save me a second set of seams (one to attach the border, the second to quilt them in the ditch or similar.

The borders turned out okay - no major puckers or waviness and it was a lovely feeling to add the borders and be ready for binding, instead of having the whole quilting business still ahead.

I added 3 borders: a narrow brown one, a narrower yellow one and a wide brown one. I added extra quilting to the wide border (the orange floral/leafy print is the back of the quilt):

Now you're ready to bind and label to your liking! If you need help with that, check out my Quilty Tutorial page above!

There you have it, one striking mirrored bargello quilt:

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


I washed the Chicks and Elephants quilt before sending it to its new owner. It shrunk just enough to bring out the quilting more and I had a chance to take a photo of the missing spiral block :)

After the original problems I had while making this quilt at quilt retreat, it did turn out to be a fun quilt :)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fabric Art x 3

#1: A Quick Pillow
I'm visiting some friends for Christmas, and one of them has a birthday just before the holidays, so I whipped up this pillow with my half-pillow tutorial (see Crafty Tutorials).

#2: Fabric Art
I have a two foster children through PLAN International - you foster a child with a monthly sponsorship and the money is used to improve living standards/safety/education etc. in the child's village.

One is a girl in Kenya and I sent her some colourful fabric art for Christmas:

As you can see, I practiced some more feathers ;)
It's also reversible!

Hope she likes it and that it adds a bit of colour to her room - in all her pictures, everything is brown, clothing, landscape etc.. it was fun to make and I hope she likes it.

Oh, it was also my first time making round corners... well. I guess bias-binding makes a big different on rounded corners!!! Next time I'll be smarter... strips cut on the grain just don't stretch well around the corner!

#3: Framed Fabric
And another fabric-gift for my bird-loving friend (same recipient as the magnetic message board):

This used to be a framed mirror, but the mirror broke and I kept the frame for about 4 years thinking I could use it for something "some day". Well, it was time to make true on that promise, so I glued fabric around the backboard, plopped it back into the frame and tada - how much simpler yet effective can you get?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Browngellow Finito!

Thanks for all your lovely compliments on my BrownGellow quilt! Many of you asked how I would quilt it - it's time for the big reveal: (drum roll)

Can't see much of the quilting there, can you? Good thing there are close-ups below!

I think I was inspired by a bead-curtain, 70s style :) Maybe because of one of the fabrics in my Chicks & Elephants quilt?

This is the backing fabric - I bought it on sale last year, 3$ a yard or so - I really love those types of colours and I could even abide the large floral print which usually isn't my style.

Meandering on the brown fabrics:

And a leafy, ranking vine all around the border - I went out of my usual comfort zone and used a thread that definitely didn't blend in! I concentrated hard when quilting and am happy to say that there are no major kinks in the vine, so I'm happy to show off the distinct quilting!

I know I marked this quilt done in my sidebar, though I admit that I have about 3 feet of binding to do. But technically, it's done :) Yay! All for me, too, harharhar!

I'm almost done writing up the tutorial for how I made this quilt! It's a bit more work than my usual quilts, though patterns are hard to compare - definitely worth the effort though, I'd say :)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A Magnetic Message Board

The Moda Bake Shop (in my reader list) recently published 8 things to make from a layer cake or something like that. One crafty item was a magnetic message board made from a stove cover. It worked pretty well - I craft-glued fabric to the cover, folded the fabric over the edge and was generous with glue on the inside of the rim. Made a bunch of matching magnets and attached a loop (ribbon glued to the inside of the rim) to hang the whole contraption. Fairly quick! Though I learned to make sure to use good magnets or they don't hold anything up!!

Friday, 10 December 2010

End Of Year Challenge Progress

Well, if you've followed the changes in the list on the right, you'll see that I've made some headway in the end-of-year-challenge I set myself this fall.

3 quilts are done, phew...

... and I recently had a spurt of basting motivation, which means after basting the BrownGellow, I also whipped up a backing for the Free As A Bird quilt and basted it.

I had planned on basting the Disaster Quilt as well, since I finally finished the borders on it, but ran into yet another disastrous problem; so it's once again out of sight out of mind in a corner. I was close to getting rid of that quilt twice now! More about that later (when I'm in a really good mood, so that after writing it I'll still be in a mediocre mood)!

I'm still staring at the Sunset on Water piece, figuring out what to do with it. I'm pretty sure it'll stay a small size, but that's all I know for now :)

Oh, and I can guarantee that the blue string quilt won't be done, and I probably won't tackle quilting the Free As A Bird quilt this year either. Oh well, it was an admirable goal, haha!

And I did of course start 3 new quilts and finish one of them, so maybe that'll make up for the unmet goals? :)

How are your plans for finishing up projects before 2011 going?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Fabric, My Love

Indulge me in another post about my current favourite fabric!

I've put all the poppy fabric I posted about the other day through the wash. It's lovely to see it all unfolded!

These Michael Miller fabrics are awesome quality. They dried very quickly after coming out of the wash, and I looked at them, wondering if I had somehow ironed them already and forgotten about it! They smoothed out beautifully again. There was barely any stretching of the fabric (i.e. the cut-lines still matched up!!!) and the colours didn't run. (I used a shout colour catcher but it's as clean as can be.. (if there's no colour on those sheets, can I reuse them??? Does anyone now? I feel wasteful)).

Now I'm tempted to buy a ton more yardage of this print series, before I've even cut into it ;) I won't, but I want to!!! Just look at these fresh colours!

PS: Hah, "I won't but I want to"??? I just did!! 8 more yards from FabricFlair - I've been having an absolute wonderful experience with this Etsy store! Go and visit Christie yourself, she's so accomodating and extremely fast at getting orders out! (Shipping same day or next!)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Here, Chicky Chicky

Looky here! It's pretty much ready! (Binding still to do)

I once again couldn't get myself to do an overall-quilting-pattern, so it's turned into more of a free-motion sampler :)

Thought I'd share the different styles I used with you:

A free-motion grid! I didn't do too bad with the lines, eh? I did mark them with a disappearing marker (pink, from Singer - it kind of disappears faster than I can quilt, actually), but I only had that idea *after* I started the first line and didn't want to take the quilt back out and start the line again, haha! So I marked the grid very awkwardly and somewhat haphazardly with a ruler while the quilt was in the machine (meaning I didn't have a very even surface underneath). The lines are about 3/4" apart. I kind of like the grid look, though this block reminds me of an oven mit - they must use that pattern a lot! :)

This was the easiest block, I just outlined the printed squares...

Feathers and loops (easier to see on the back, which means this was a great piece for practicing! Who says you can't practice on a real quilt????)

McTavishing on the opposite side:
And of course: PEBBLES!!!

I love this fabric, the bead curtain - so 70s! I went along with the pattern and did some connecting lines between beads of the same colour.

Concentric circles around these green rings that fell in the brown water:

This one was fun - I kind of just put the needle down, get an idea and go for it. So maybe these could be invisible plumage on the chickens???

And I guess the brown dotted block didn't photograph well - it has one big spiral on it, but didn't show up well in my lighting.

I love being at the binding stage of a quilt again. I love hand-stitching the binding. I know many people don't. Too bad, we could trade off unwanted tasks!

Bargello Update - Are You Ready???

Well, my little brown yellow bargello is now called BrownGellow and is not so little anymore...

It grew from this little experiment:

To this bedsized quilt!

I'm very happy with how this turned out, and I took lots of photos of the process, so will put up a tutorial soon for those of you who'd like to try a bargello of your own!

For not having used a pattern, I ran into amazingly few problems :) (mostly to do with me mixing up colours, sigh, here comes the seam ripper!) I also discovered that when I make one section of a seam-heavy quilt in the summer and the other sections in the winter, my 1/4" seam allowance is quite difference - which totally sucks when trying to match seams. I was pretty inventive with my cosmetic quilt surgery! :) And in the end, no one can tell! Hah

I've decided to quilt it first and then put the borders on, since I'm expecting a bit of shifting during quilting, so it's basted to an oversized backing and batting right now!