Sunday, August 28, 2011

Frilly Edges

This morning we ventured out into the frilly edges of Hurricane Irene! Apart from a bit of gusty wind there's not much sign of the stormy weather here yet, though I imagine we'll see some rain later today... nothing like the poor folk along the coast have seen.

But venture out at 9am we did, so I could get some more fabric! Well I must get the borders done if I'm going to get my quilt finished for the male quilters competition entry deadline on Sept 26!

I found a nice tan Kona cotton for $6/yd, so I got 3/4 yd of that, which should be enough to cut 4 or 5 inch strips, either straight (along the width of the fabric) or bias (diagonal up the fabric)... the online calculator says 2/3 yd is enough for 4" wide strips, but I'd really like to use 5" strips since I'm making up for the backing of my quilt being 43" and the top being about 48"... so, I'm intending to center the backing so there's 2.5" of quilt top over hanging it, so the border will stretch the 2.5" to where the quilt top ends, plus about an inch to go up the side of the backing / batting / quilt top, and maybe an inch to give a little border to the top...

all that mathematics seems to work in my head, but we shall see in practice! I'll be doing a dry run measurement with some fabric scraps first!

I also got a can of adhesive spray for attaching all the quilt layers together ready for pinning and then sewing. I got a heat one, that you apply, position the layers, let dry and then iron to fuse. At $16 per can it's not cheap, but a 40% coupon helped bring the price down to under $10! I'll report back on how well it works!

In other news, here's some pics from the beginnings of quilt 2! ... it will be made up of rectangular blocks each with a white strip border on 2 sides, so that's what I'm hand stitching together at the moment. There's quite a few of these (about 30) so I may get to experimenting with the sewing machine before long! :)

photo of a pile of strips of white fabric which form the borders of each square, a pile of half a dozen squares which have borders sewed to 2 sides, and a pile of a dozen squares which have yet to be done! there is a fabric with raindrops, another with clouds and rain sayings, and another with umbrellas, plus today's purchases of a fabric with yellow ducks and a purple one with polka dots!

It's a rainy day theme and so far I've got 5 or the 8 patterned fabrics that the pattern calls for. Today I picked up the polka dots and rubber duckies ones!

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Sticky Bears are Nine Pence"

Here's a quick survey! What do quilters prefer when it comes to sticking the different layers (quilt top, batting, backing) together ready for quilting? I think my batting may be fusable, so in which case should I combine with any tape or spray, and if it isn't which is cheapest and easiest, bias tape or a binding spray?

So, more concisely:
1) fusable batting alone
2) fusable batting with either bias tape or spray
3) bias tape alone
4) adhesive spray alone

Just lingering in the coffee shop before heading to work for my last 1 - 10pm Friday night shift! After this I'll be switching to a more conventional 8:30 to 5:30 shift... though that does mean I'll probably get less quilting done! ...

I've made a start on my second quilt, sewing borders onto 2 sides of my individual squares, and that's what makes up the blocks for the pattern. So far I did 3 squares on Monday, another 3 while listening to Quilter in the Gap's latest podcast (number 9! go check it out!... I get a mention!!) ... and I've got a half dozen more squares which I might be able to get done tonight!

... and because I know some sharp eyed reader is going to point it out when I post pics... yes, I know they're rectangles and not squares! (stop nit-picking or I'll start calling them oblongs, which is a much better word than rectangle if you ask me! ;) )

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How Long is a Piece of String?

I just had to do a second post to share this link with you! First let me update you with the results of today's shopping trip!

There was a HUGE storm at 1 o'clock, so we waited till the rain had ceased and the thunder had gone to growl at somebody else, and then we set off for Joanne's armed with a tasty 50% off coupon!

In the end I used the coupon to bring a $22 roll of cotton / poly batting down to $11, and then got some fabrics at the in-store discount of 30% off: 2 and a quarter yards of an owl fabric to back my quilt, and 2 fat quarters which have rainy images that will work a treat on my next quilt!

As I'm now at home musing about the fabric for the binding, I looked to see if there was a computer version of the Robert Kaufman quilting calculator phone app (available for Android and iPhone, as mentioned by Quilting Revolution's blog!)...

and yes, I found this website which not has all the same calculators (size conversions, piece calculations, borders, binding and batting etc), but it also has slightly better descriptions about what is being calculated, along with some example calculations, so it's much easier to understand!

I think I'll be using this link a lot!

Roly Poly

I found the missing photo of all the rolls of batting at patricia's fabrics! Blame a faulty phone sim card! So here it is... I'll need to decide what variety to use very soon!

about a dozen rolls of batting materials to choose from!

I found some owl fabric that would work for backing the quilt. It was 30% off in Joanne's ... now if only I could get them to sell me it at normal price so I could use a 50% off coupon and bring it down to $4/yd!

It's been a busy week in blog land! I've met a few new people, had conversations with others, and entered a couple of give away competitions! Some people have given me some really useful lists of links to online fabric stores, podcasts and I will be checking out all of those for sure!

Hope everyone is having a nice fabricky weekend :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Topsy Turvey

So, a little over 5 months after my first quilting class (an event most memorable for the horizontal direction of my stitching), my hand sewn quilt top is assembled!

It didn't really take me 5 months to get this far. the distraction of moving from Atlanta to Rochester, NY kept me out of quilting action for a couple of those months. I am very pleased to say that my stitching has improved over the course of doing this quilt top, and I now can sew two full rows together in about 15 minutes. Not too bad :)

So here it is, my very first quilt top.

I do have a name for the quilt (as all quilts must have) but I'm not going to reveal it until it's finished. From here it needs backing and stuffing, the real "quilting" stage... so keep watching for that process and the naming of the quilt!

In the meantime I'm going to start my next project, which is either going to be a quilted basket (I got the pattern from a website associated with Quilters World magazine, which I'm expecting a trial copy of), or a second quilt, a pattern from Quilter in the Rain in Seattle (also on blogspot)! ... or maybe both :)

today I go for an information session - 3 hours of learning what my kidney dialysis options are. I've just about got my head around the fact of needing dialysis soon, and am thinking positively that it'll give me extra time for quilting!! As long as I can do the "at home" option and keep working then I'll be ok.

In other news I had an ultrasound on my kidneys the other day, which showed them to be "as expected" (or "mostly ok" as the doc said)... but it did show "a mass" in my bladder, so I'm waiting for an appointment to go have that looked at with a camera and a biopsy taken if necessary... it may just be a natural thickening of the bladder wall (according to the kidney doc), but it's a bit of an apprehensive time until I get to see the urologist and find out what's really going on... wish me luck!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

who's in to bat?

I went to get my kidneys ultrasounded yesterday.... turned out to be a not unpleasant experience! though I'm not expecting any great joy in the results! Anyway, afterwards we stopped by Patricia's Fabrics, mainly to exchange my recently-purchased metal thimble for a soft one I liked more!

Of course I couldn't help coming away with a couple of fat quarters and a couple of pre-cut squares, 8 squares of each I think... all the fabrics will go with a centre panel I got with cats and sewing motifs on... that's going to be quilt #2 I expect!

we also got to see their long arm machine, and I think I may well rent that to put my quilt top, backing and batting all together... though at $18 per hour it's a little pricey. I also know that the quilt club I'm going to join in September has a quilting machine - I don't know for sure if it's a long arm thing, but I can wait to find out since it'd be free to use! :)

I could think of lots of cricketing puns (all bad) relating to batting, but I'll be good and spare you all the cringes of that! So here's a photo instead, the rows of batting I could choose from at Patricia's! ... except it appears to have vanished! well, suffice to say, there were about a dozen different kinds and thicknesses... I didn't see any cotton / bamboo mix which I'd read about and been a little intrigued by, but lots of cotton and cotton / poly mixes.

Had a productive night at work. The phones were quiet and I got to sew 2 pairs of rows together - that gives a section that is two thirds of the whole quilt! The remaining 2 rows are ready to be sewed together and then joined to the 4-row section to complete the quilt top!

here's an unrelated question: those of you who like to quilt, what size of individual squares do you like best? My first quilt has 6" squares, but I see some fabric bundles online using 5" and 10" bundles and I wondered which you like the look and feel of best...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Long and the Short of it

So, I have spent some happy time this week stitching 2 pairs of my quilt rows together whilst listening to Quilter in the Gap's first 3 podcasts (which are very good!)... and I reach a point where a decision needs to be made!

At the moment the quilt is 5 ft long by 4 ft wide. I have enough squares left to add either 1 more row to make the quilt 6 x 4, or one more column to make it 5 x 5... or I could leave it at 5 x 4.

I admit I got a little bewildered at the description of putting it all together - the top, the backing and the batting, and using a frame to facilitate the sewing it all together process.

I have half a mind to wait until the local quilt club (complete with quilting machine) starts again at the end of next month so i can seek advice and see what would work best with their machine...

But I'd also like to carry on, either hand stitching it all, or running it through my sewing machine if possible... I just don't know which size would be either easiest or most useful as a quilt!!

At 5 x 4 it fits as a throw, about the size to sit on top of the matress; at 6 x 4 it'd fit more fully over the bed, and at 5 x 5 it'd be a bigger lap quilt quite nicely,though it would be fine at 5 x 4 for that!

Any of my expert followers have any suggestions? i have no overwhelming preference for the use of the quilt, so that probably makes practicality of assembling it the key factor in the decision!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


It feels like the quilt is really taking shape now! All my squares are sewed into strips, each the width of the quilt, and I intended to start joining the rows together in the quiet Friday late night shift at work... except I left my bag of quilting goodies at home, so no quilting got done!

But I made up for it yesterday and finished attaching the last set of squares to complete the final row strip, and I got the first 2 rows joined together too!

I thought that deserved a photo, so here are the rows laid out... one row is missing since (a) I forgot about it, and (b) it wouldn't have fitted on the bed with leaving gaps between the un-joined rows... but this gives a good idea of the look of the final quilt!

photo of my first quilt taking shape! it is a series of rows ready to be joined together. Rawhide!

Oh, and what you don't see in the photo is that the bottom row has an extra group of squares so it's actually longer than the rest of the quilt... so that will get rectified ... that row is actually a bit mis-matched with a couple of blocks of the same fabric joined together, so that will get unpicked and re-ordered!

But all in all it's great to feel like the final quilt isn't far away now! ... row-ling row-ling row-ling, rawhide!

what do you think? Any tips for finishing it (borders, backing etc)?

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's That green Thing?

image from the Meg and Mog book, Meg on the Moon. they are on the moon. Mog is saying 'what's that green thing?' and Meg says 'that's Earth!'

What's that green thing?
That's a rather nifty pin and needle holding thing I found in Expressions in Needleart in Canandaigua, on one of the finger Lakes close to Rochester.

a piece of green slightly rubbery material, held together by 2 magnets, onto which pins and needles can be held magnetically

I have to admit that I have lost 2 of the magnets that clamp the piece of green stuff together, and now i try and think about it I am a little puzzled - I thought the magnets were on the inside of the stuff so you could stick your pins to the whole outside surface... With the magnets on the outside you end up just sticking your pins to the magnets, in which case why not just buy a big magnet?! ... if i were designing it I'd have a thin metal rail running along the top of the outside of the fabric and then the magnets would go inside and the rails (one on each side) would hold it shut... but I'm just a simple seamstress...

A few weekends later and i found more gadgets! I got a nice soft thimble which will stop me punishing my finger pushing the needle through my quilting squares when the needle is too short to comfortably nestle against my right-hand 4th finger nail...

and a Hera marker, as recommended by Sarah (narcoleptic in a cupboard), which which makes seam edges nice and straight when you're sewing them together

oh yes, and, erm, a dozen more fabric squares... not fat quarters, just 6" inch squares, some with cats, some with patterns, all just 25 cents each... well, I'm sure they'll go nicely with something some day...

In actual quilting news, I now have 2 completed rows of my quilt. Three more to go and that'll be the lot, just needing to join the rows together, then add the backing and batting... the end is in sight ... or within reach as might be a more accurate phrase! ;)