Posted tagged ‘quilting’

Organizing Quilting Fabric

June 11, 2017

When I moved to a new house I just took all my fabric out of boxes and piled it up neatly, with no regard to colour. I knew I’d have to sort it out once I got my new sewing machine, so that I could more easily find fabrics. After reading some of my new books on scrap quilts, and the recommendations for sorting by colour, I finally tackled this big job and am satisfied that I took the time to do it.

So I bought some wire baskets from the dollar store and laid out 12 of them on tables and commenced sorting my fabric. I folded the smaller pieces into the baskets, and then folded larger pieces and yardage in piles by each basket. The colour designations I used were:

Neutral Grey, Taupe, Beige
Multi Brights

This is a view of the Purple and Green piles.


Then I put them back in the flat pack cupboard I use for fabric. I sorted my batting scraps and placed them in a storage bin on top of the cupboard, and inside two bankers boxes I put big yardage for backings, and yardage of corduroy and velveteen that I use for sewing bags.


I also have my current projects laid out so that they aren’t buried and I can access them, which is much more practical.

The cupboard is not quite wide enough to have the baskets spaced evenly so it looks a bit jumbled, but it is so easy to find colours, especially the smaller pieces that are now collected in the baskets, and I discovered many fabrics that I’d forgotten I had so I am very pleased I took the time to sort in this way. It will be much easier to pick and choose fabrics for scrap quilts in the future.



A Fresh Round of Embroidery and Quilting Books

May 5, 2017

I saw a couple of embroidery and sewing books that seemed to have a fresh approach so bought three of them for my collection.


1) Modern Folk Embroidery: 30 Contemporary Projects for Folk Art Inspired Designs by Nancy Nicholson

I have often admired Nancy’s patterns on Etsy, but thought I’d get more patterns in her book so was pleased to finally buy it when it was published. It’s so nice to see books on hand embroidery coming out for new generations who want to pick up the craft.

2) Tilda Homemade & Happy by Tone Finnanger

She is quite prolific and I’ve seen lots of her designs around, but I liked some of her reindeer and pigs and sheep in this.

3) Zakka Embroidery: Simple One- and Two-Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts by Yumiko Higuchi

These are tiny motifs and I was interested in her ideas for small purses using purse frames and embroidery. I have several purse frames on hand so want to use them up. There are lots of small cross-stitch motifs around but not many for hand embroidery, so this looked good for my library.

I was able to buy a new sewing machine, the Janome 9400, and I’m hoping it will enable me to quilt about 12 to 14 quilt tops that are languishing here. I took all the quilts and quilt tops out of the Rubbermaid trunk they’d been stored in for two years while we were selling our old house and moving and they reeked of plastic.

I spent some weeks washing and airing them and bought a nice wooden blanket box to store them. As I was confronted with the old tops, some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, I felt the imperative to finish them. I cleaned up and reorganized my sewing area and now I have the fabric cupboard to deal with.


There is another Rubbermaid container in there, so I’ll have another round of airing fabric, but I particularly wanted to get my fabrics and scraps organized by colour and sew up some simpler quilt patterns. I have been quilting since 1984 so I have many magazines and books on the subject, and I’ve given away many more but I liked the fresh look of these publications and many of the designs.


1) Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects – Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison

2) No Scrap Left Behind: 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes by Amanda Jean Nyberg

3) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

4) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

I am not in good health but things are improving, so I want ideas and projects and happier creative endeavours to look forward to. That should sort me out (pun)!

Baby Quilt and Padded Phone Case

December 19, 2015

I finished the baby quilt I have been making for the last couple of years. I had some leftover blocks from cutting the Disappearing 9-Patch pattern I used for this quilt, so took four of them and made an unquilted 18-inch pillow, and then used the last block for an accent in a matching tote bag.


The tote bag came from a great free pattern, Quilted Tote Bag, at Craftsy by Lindsay Conner. I modified the size to make it bigger and quilted it using a vertical wave. Then I added two interior pockets, a magnetic snap, and a piece of illustration board in a fabric sleeve to provide stability at the bottom, and I made the straps a bit longer so it would go over-the-shoulder.


For the pillow I used a basic tutorial from the Sew Mama Sew blog for the cover, but interlined it with plain cream-coloured cotton to hide the patchwork seams. After sewing it together I zigzagged the edges together before turning so it could be washed safely without fraying.

I got everything finished and delivered one week before the baby arrived. I was so pleased that I persevered and got it done in a timely manner. I am way out of practice with machine quilting, so did the quilt fairly simply, using medium stippling over the busy patchwork and doing the border with a leaf design in the corners and then side-to-side squiggles on the lengths. I forgot to take a picture of the back to show the quilting.

I recently had to buy an unlocked cell phone for travelling, and I couldn’t find a case for it, so I made my own padded case. This was done using an excellent tutorial from Jenya on the While she was sleeping blog. Her custom measurements worked perfectly, and I modified it by making the flap a bit longer to provide extra padding. I also substituted Velcro for the button and elastic closure.


I liked sewing this so much that I’m going to use the tutorial again for making a case for my portable Garmin GPS device. This time I’m going to machine quilt over the fabric and batting to provide more stability over the larger area.

Once again I find myself thanking someone for generously providing free instructions with lots of pictures. It was great of Jenya to post such a wonderful tutorial and I appreciate it.



I Finished That Thing from 2011

September 29, 2015

I had to sew some borders on a baby quilt, so got my Pfaff machine out and tried to get it working properly. I finally got it settled down after a big adjustment on the bobbin case tension.

Then I thought I’d see how it was working with machine quilting, so took out this project for a sewing machine cover that I started in July 2011. The pattern is from the book Fresh Quilting which you can read about in this post.

I got it pieced and basted but the patchwork seemed a bit lumpy, I quilted it with the walking foot on my Pfaff and it did okay but I got a bit of skewing with the patchwork. Free motion quilting would have worked better in this instance but I can’t get my machine to work for free motion, even after having the machine serviced three times.

I’ve never done a double binding before so I did one on this to practice for the baby quilt I am making and it went fine. I’m not that fussed about this cover for some reason, but it sits nicely on the machine and looks nice and crisp.


The original pattern called for cardboard or illustration board to be quilted into the body of the cover. I thought that was a senseless idea because you could never wash the thing, so I made a sleeve, sewed it to the back, and slipped a piece of illustration board into it. That way it’s removable for washing.


At least it’s done. I think I might investigate buying a Juki TL-2010Q sewing machine. They are supposed to free motion quilt beautifully. I’ve got about fifteen or more quilt tops to finish. I love my Pfaff for piecing and sewing clothes but it’s not good any more for machine quilting.

UPDATE: In the realm of “You just have to laugh!”, I called for a quote on the Juki machine: $1600 plus tax which brings it to $1800 CAD. Way, way, way, way out of my realm of affordability.

I did however buy some Machingers quilting gloves for $9 and I’ll try the walking foot again, and try the free motion quilting again and see if I can solve this and at least get the baby quilt done in time.






Sunbonnet Layout

December 22, 2014

Ho hum, but at least it’s done. Years ago I had planned some sort of fancy border with skipping ropes and little girls but I am quite pleased so far with this neat and tidy layout. Three days ago the loose blocks were stuck in a cupboard and now it’s going to be done. I put the best blocks toward the top and the plainer ones with more foxing on the bottom.  The little girl on the bottom left has the most foxing spots on her background. That’s what you get for wearing a pink pindot fabric with green pindot sleeves to the party.


All I have to do is sew the sashing strip rows onto the main rows and then sew the whole thing together. If my arthritic index finger holds up I might be finished tomorrow, but it’s more likely to be a two-day job. Pinning that much always causes my finger to swell and hurt.

Then I’m putting a 2.5-inch border on in a more monotone lilac print. I will bind it in dark green which should make it pop.

I think I have some quilt batting that is big enough. If not I’ll have to buy some and I’m trying to avoid that. I have lots of fabric of various prints for backing. I just want to keep some momentum going. I baste quilts in a floor frame and then machine quilt, so if I keep going without getting distracted, I have a good chance to finish this.

Oh, I just noticed that I spoke about these sunbonnet blocks in February 2009. At that time four of them still needed to be appliquéd and embroidered, so now they’re done and almost into a full quilt. It only took me almost six years after I first spoke of them. You see why I need to get them done?

I am planning to use the quilt in the chair in my bedroom, which is my sanctuary corner during bouts of insomnia.




Resurrecting Quilt Blocks Again

December 21, 2014

I took this project out again that I started about 20 to 22 years ago. I originally started it after my Mother died because the little sunbonnets reminded me of the cloche style hats popular in the 1920s when my Mom was born. I finally finished all twelve of them, but it has been disappointing because the background fabric has developed some foxing on it.

I don’t really like sunbonnet blocks but I want to finish these and despite a bit of foxing here and there on the background fabric they are useable. Here are six of them.


Here are the three fabrics I bought sometime in the 1990s to use as sashing, border and backing. While looking at them today I see at least one of them could be used for a cloth doll I am planning of Frida Kahlo. The focus fabric and flowers I bought for the Frida doll are shown over the top of the sunbonnet trio.


My plan is to just do a simple sashing and get the sunbonnets together into a lap quilt and stabilized to use and enjoy. An important lesson for me is not to used cheaper general purpose dress fabric, but buy good quilting fabric for the background of appliqué blocks or anything else in a quilt.

Not a terribly inspiring setting but it will be done and ready to quilt instead of languishing.


I spent a couple of hours today doing the simple feather stitch embroidery on the last four hats and just would like to see this finished after twenty years. I will probably work on both projects concurrently. I just got my sewing machine back from cleaning and repair so I hopefully can start sewing again.

Anyway, bright fiesta fabrics are good for the soul in the winter. One of my cats died this week after 18 months of illness, so it was not a great week.


Good pets and good mothers are hard to lose.



Clamshell Variations for Quilts

December 3, 2014

It’s not too often I get excited by quilt blocks or new quilts. I love doing up sampler quilts and scrap quilts, but I also love complicated hand piecing and appliqué, and one idea keeps cropping up of a basic pieced clamshell shape, with the arc drafted for points like in a Mariner’s Compass or New York Beauty block. From there, you can take the idea anywhere if you can draft it.

Linda Franz has drafted up what she calls Clamshell Pickle and others call Clamshell Pickle Dish or Pickled Clamshells. She sells the pattern at Inklingo, where you can print the design right onto your fabric. She says it’s much easier to use Inklingo for this complicated printing piecing. It seems to be the only pattern available and costs $30.


I refuse to be dependent on my computer for printing and quilting so I would make hand piecing templates and forget printing on fabric. Thus, this pattern is overly expensive for my wants, so I thought I’d draft my own variation. This one has 11 triangles in the arc, and I saw someone else redraft it with 9 triangles in the arc.

I have the Electric Quilt 6 software, but I like to draw things out with graph paper so I bought an 11 x 17 inch pad of graph paper. Although liking the original Clamshell Pickle, I don’t have a lot of fancy large prints to fussy cut the centres, so I went looking for variations.


Then I found a scrap quilt by Karen Stone. Karen has a New York Beauty quilt pattern I’ve always fancied, however, she’s brought her eye for design to redrafted clamshells and although there is no pattern yet, you can see how inventive she has been in bisecting these and using appliqué inside the clamshell shape as well.


Ruth White is another quilter who has run with this idea in her New York Clambake series. Again, no patterns available but easy enough to draft with precision or more freeform as you wish.

UPDATE: Ruth left a comment to say that she does have patterns available now, although they are not more widely marketed, you can contact her at her web site about ordering. Thanks Ruth!


You could draw up this sort of variation in several different blocks but piece them more conventionally with a light background fabric and traditional Clamshell layout. You can do whatever you want, which is what makes it exciting. You could use Gwen Marston’s ideas for “liberated” piecing of points and primitive appliqué.

I like to do do complicated settings and juggle prints around so this is an idea I’m seriously considering. I need to get out my old, old copy of Judy Mathieson’s book Mariner’s Compass: An American Quilt Classic now that I have a decent size of graph paper. Her drafting is meticulous on paper, but the idea of some wonky quilting à la Gwen Marston is appealing too.

The whole idea of making it up as I go along appeals to me. As I get older I worry about completing projects and leaving quilts unfinished. When something catches my mind like this I don’t want to let it go but I don’t want to make too big a project. What I might do is draft a few things out and incorporate them into what I call my “Blue Sampler Quilt” an oldie but goodie from the 1990s that I work on now and then.

Ideas, ideas…