Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Jen's Tree All Grown Up

It was a big project, now it's a big quilt and that means this will be a big post! Lean back and enjoy :)

The quilt was presented at my March guild meeting, but unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures from that, so what follows was taken at night, on the floor of my apartment :)

One thing I will point out is that I changed some things from this photo: 1) see the zig-zag line to the left of the trunk? I didn't like the look of that falling leaf, too unnaturally straight, so I took it out and did a softly looping float-to-the-ground line. 2) not/or barely visible on this photo, there was unquilted space around the crown of the tree - I filled most of that in and even quilted over the edge onto the border and am happy I did - I didn't want batting to float around the edge in 5 years!

On my home floor it looks like this:

To start the story at the beginning, my friend Jen asked for this quilt and picked some photos of the net, one of which happened to be a wall-hanging from Anne of Film and Thread, one of the blogs I love to keep up to date with. I used her tree shape and the fallen/falling leaves as inspiration but chose a different (simpler) leaf shape since I appliqued instead of Cherokee printed, and I added a border. Anne had pebbled the ground around the tree trunk, and I knew I needed to pebble something because when Jen first asked for a quilt, it was in reaction to my Mossy Monkey Mechanic, which is pebble-central. So to not copy Anne entirely, I pebbled around the leaves/crown of the tree. Oof, lots and lots of pebbling (I calculated that I used roughly 1.5 km of plum thread doing the pebbling, based on the # of bobbins I used (I went through 1 and a half spools of 1200 m thread of the plum colour alone, but that includes other quilting and some piecing).

I knew from the beginning how I wanted to quilt the trunk:

Next came all the pebbling - a loooooong time quilting those! My foot got so hot from the pedal some days, I had to stop because it burned even through the sock (luckily, no meltdown of wires in the pedal!)

I quilted in the ditch around the squares in the border and it looks really puffy when you bent down to eye-level (does a quilt have an eye-level??) - more so than in this photo!

I was stumped about what to quilt in the empty space between leaves and ground. I considered flowers (too cheesy), a mountainous horizon (too clichee) and ended up putting in what I consider the best compliment in the world: "Stay as you are"
To not have that be too cheesy, I made the letters organic, so to say, by having them sprout leaves, flowers of different shapes, have roots penetrate the ground etc. I figured it wouldn't be quite so obvious and would have to be pointed out to most people, so it's a little code-compliment to my friend. Plus it gives her something to discover everytime she looks at the quilt (though I stopped before I started having raccoons poke out of the letter A or woodpeckers chopping away at the T... :)

Then I had some leaves falling, either quilted or appliqued, also inspired by Anne:

The leaves are rough-edge appliqued, and I bet they would look a lot nicer hand-appliqued since I like clean edges, but I figured rough edges are more natural and I would still be appliqueing leaves now if I'd done it by hand.

The backing shows the quilting nicely in the eggplant-coloured space, and the leaves puff out against the pebbled background.

I used up almost every scrap of fabric Jen gave me! Hence the patch-worked, random backing :)

I delivered it last Friday and wow, was she happy! That's the best about quilting, next to finishing a quilt... when the recipient really really likes the quilt and appreciates the work and shows interest in how it was done... makes me absolutely happy :)

So, between this quilt and the raffle quilt (I'm at 1364$!!!!!!!!!!!), I've been busy, and on top of all that, I'm moving across an ocean in less than 2 weeks, so my fabrics are packed and there won't be any quilting (or a bare minimum if I manage to squeeze a small project into my hand-luggage) for the next 6 weeks (shipping things by freighter takes a long time!).

Please stay tuned, I'm sure I'll come up with something to blog about :)

Oh, and I know someone will ask: I think it's around 75" x 100", which is supposed to fit a queen-sized bed with 1 foot overhang all around. I used polyester batting to get the fluffyness - I always buy the thick/high loft stuff and tear it in two. This is my first quilt using Connecting Threads thread for the whole thing. I had a lot of breakage and was warned correctly that this thread is very "dusty", but I do love the many colour choices. The breakage got less when I slowed down a bit... my my, you should see me pebbling, I'm just zooming around in circles! :)

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Handy Case (Tutorial)

A little project of mine required 3" x 5" Q-cards, 100 of them. I looked at the cases available in the store and didn't like any of those plasticky, made-in-China things. Why buy something like that when I can make a beautiful, quilted case myself???

So here it goes, without any math to figure things out, so I'll leave it up to you if you want to make something similar :)

I picked 4 charms from a MODA Neptune charmpack

Sewed 3 of the charms in a row for the outside of the case, scant 1/4" seam on everything, I finger-pressed all seams open (in fact, I didn't turn the iron on once in this project). 1 charm was left for the closing flap. I also cut about 3" of a velcro strip and a little scrap piece to extend the width of the clothing flap (about 5" x 2", the dark khaki in the photo below).

I found some batting scraps (strips cut off the edges of previous quilts), zigzagged two strips together to make them 5" wide and about 14.5" long (longer than my 3 charms in a row; if you're outside fabrics are light, make sure you use a thread colour that blends in with the batting or it will show through!). I placed the outside of the case face up on the batting, then quilted parallel straight lines to give some structure (I had the batting facing down while I quilted - don't know if that makes a difference). You can mark the lines with a ruler or just go wild, like me. I also sewed the scrap piece onto the flap-charm (top left corner in picture below) so that the flap piece is now about 5" by 6.5".

Next, take the hook part (rough) of the velcro strip and sew onto the right side of the flap piece, about 1/2" below the center line (I folded the flap in half lengthwise, then placed the velcro strip below the fold. Next, take a scrap piece of batting to cover half of the flap piece (when folded lengthwise again). Fold the flap piece lengthwise, right sides facing (i.e. velcro on the inside!), place it on top of the batting piece and sew down each side (v. scant 1/4" seam) so it looks like the photo below, where I'm holding the flap piece open. Also sew the soft part of the velcro onto the cover piece. To place it, fold the cover in half, batting side together, then place the flap piece on top, slightly off-center towards the folded edge of the cover (if it's slightly off in the end, it'll still work just fine since the strip is long enough!). Regarding the height of the strip, adjust the soft velcro according to the placement of the hook-velcro on the flap, then move it about 1/4 to 1/2" up towards the top of the case! Oh, how to describe this better...

Turn the flap piece right side out. I quilted some horizontal lines to give it structure.
Use some scraps to make a backing that's at least as big as the cover piece of the case.

Now for the part that made me sit and stare for a few minutes while I got the 3-D thinking wheels going inside my brain...
Layer as follows: 1) lay down the outside cover with the batting down and the velcro strip edge away from you (i.e. the future opening side up).
2) place the flap piece velcro side facing up on top of the outside cover so that the velcro strip is on the other side (see photo). Line the velcro strips up by placing them on top of each other, then folding the cover in half and pinning the flap to the non-velcro side (i.e. the piece of the cover you just folded over) - undo the folding and it should look like below.
3) place the backing face down on top of everything else.
now sew a scant 1/4" seam along the top edge.

If you now flip the whole thing so the batting is on the inside, it should look like this:

Now for the part that gave me a little bit of a head ache (hadn't greased those 3D thinking wheels enough :): Open the thing back up so that you have outside cover with velcro and batting on the left and lining on the right as below, fold it lengthwise as you see me doing in the photo (i.e. velcro strips closed up):

Below is the folded package (don't get confused that it's flipped over from the last photo!). Sew along all the seams indicated by pens and the green seam ripper, i.e. everything except the short edge of the lining (bottom left) - leave that for turning inside out. Use a very scant 1/4" seam on the batting part or the seam will be very bulky! Use a generous 1/4" seam on the lining (also to make it slightly smaller than the cover to avoid bulky fabric on the inside. (Note: my lining bottom edges weren't cropped yet, so I just sewed straight across, then trimmed it to 1/4" later, it's okay in the lining since some of my pieces were wider than 5" when I started... I'm just not big into trimming.)

Here's the hole for turning! Now comes the caterpillar part! (I'm always amazed how this ugly, raw-edge mess metamorphoses into a beautiful butterfl- ah, Q-card case!

Oh, and halfway through turning, you should remember to trim the corners for nice points!

Lastly, handsew the opening in the lining shut by folding the edges inwards and using a slip stitch or ladder stitch (my preference, absolutely hidden stitching! See tutorial in my quilty links on top of this page).

Shove the lining inside the cover piece.

Breathe a big sigh of relief that all the pieces are where they're supposed to be and the velcros are facing the right way :)

Place Q-cards inside...

... and admire!

I wish I had known this when I was a student - studying from Q-cards would have been soooo much fun!

Disclaimer: no guarantees - as I said, I didn't calculate anything, just forged ahead - took random pictures throughout and wrote this from memory 2 days later :)

Monday, 14 March 2011


Alissa of Handmade by Alissa just posted pictures of her guild's Kona Solids Quilt Challenge and a couple caught my eyes. Trust me that it's worth the click!

Birch trees
Awesome coloured pebble-quilting

PS: Can you believe my raffle quilt has raised exactly $1100 to date??? 3 more weeks to go!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Bobbins Without End

You know you're pebbling when...

... you prepare this many bobbins and know they still won't be enough to finish the quilting on a quilt that's over half done!

In quilting every free minute I have, including time before leaving for an appointment, I've figured out that it takes me about 16 min to quilt one bobbin-worth of pebbles :) No idea how that compares to anything, but there's a random fact for you!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Quiet in the Quilt Room

Not much going on at my sewing machine. Well, I'm pebbling a quilt, but that takes so long that really, not much new is going on :) So instead, here is some eye candy from my last quilt guild meeting.
This next one was very very cool - it's by a friend of mine who is very skilled at landscape quilting. She did this from a photograph, which she showed as well - it was done very true-to-life!