Marilyn

Last January I took a course at Cotton&Color about Laura Heine‘s collage quilts. Although I was hoping to finish the resulted quilt back in February, I kept postponing it looking for the right quilting approach. And half a year later, here it is!

Collage quilts aren’t difficult -technically speaking- but getting the image you want, that’s a different story! I find it more like painting: playing with colour until something clicks in the right place.

With the coquettish look the cat was getting, someone in the course pointed out that it looked like Marilyn (it also has a speckle!!), and Marilyn it has been since then.

I just love all the detail in this technique. I used mostly Kaffe Fassett, Tula Pink and Amy Butler fabrics. I also swapped some flowers, so some fabrics I can’t even say where they are from.

The quilting needed to be pretty dense to keep everything in place, and finally I decided for a simple straight line quilting using a walking foot, following the cat’s gaze.

This particular squirrel is from a print by Tula Pink, and it seems made to be placed there. For the binding, and after some consideration, I went with a dark print to enhance the whole quilt. This particular one from Cotton + Steel, with the little mice (or are they cats?) peeping from behind the buildings, is just perfect.

Project: Marilyn (Wall hanging quilt)
Size: 96.5 x 52.5 cm / 38¼ x 20½”
Date: January 2017 – July 2017
Pattern: Purrfect…, Laura Heine
Fabrics for the collage (among others):

Asian Circles, by Kaffe Fassett, Westminster Fabrics
Sprays, by Kaffe Fassett, Westminster Fabrics
Farmers Market, by Shawn Jenkins, Spectrix
Chipper, by Tula Pink, Free Spirit Fabrics
Bright Heart, by Amy Butler, Westminster Fabrics
Birch Farm, by Joel Dewberry, Free Spirit Fabrics
Elizabeth, by Tula Pink, Free Spirit Fabrics
1000 Colors Collection (light green), Lecien
Quilter’s Basic, Lecien
Fancy Hill Farm, by Robin Randolph, RJR Fabrics
B
ackground and backing: Black and White Collection 2015, Jennifer Sampou, Robert Kaufmann
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Cotton 100%
Quilting: machine-quilted,
Guttermann 100% polyester c. 111
Binding:
Tokyo Train Ride (lawn), by Sarah Watts, Cotton+Steel

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Button Jars quilt

Ta-dah! This little one is finished! I started this quilt a year ago, as a part of a course with Me and My Sister Designs. Despite my good intentions towards it, it didn’t see much progress for months, until I moved the project’s box next to my sewing machine and used it as a leader-and-ender. It looks like it was all I needed to get it done! The pattern is pretty straightforward, and with all the pieces already cut, it can be pieced in no time.

After some thought, I decided to keep the quilting simple and just stitch in the ditch around each jar, the shelves and the border. I didn’t press all the seams open, and you can tell the difference between these and the seams pressed to one side when you’re trying to quilt in the ditch (the first ones are easier!). This quilt surely would have benefited from a denser quilting motif, but neither my FMQ skills nor my machine would have allowed for it with a satisfactory result.

Trying to keep consistent with the fabric line, I chose for the border a pink print from Cotton+Steel, and I stepped outside my comfort zone with the binding. But it just seemed the right colour when I audited it, and now I think it was the perfect choice.

I’m using this quilt as a wall hanging for my sewing area. I sewed two small pockets on the back to hold a thin curtain bar, but after hanging it, I think a sleeve would have been better… just to keep in mind for the next one.

Project: Button Jars (Wall hanging quilt)
Size: 81 x 71 cm / 32 x 28″
Date: April 2016 – April 2017
Pattern: Button Jars, Me and My Sister Designs
Top fabric: Dot. Dot. Dash-, by Me and My Sister Designs (selected prints), for Moda Fabrics
White: Bella Solids White Bleached, Moda Fabrics
Taupe: Bella Solids Stone light grey, Moda Fabrics
Grey: Bella Solids Silver grey, Moda Fabrics
Border: Netorious Melody Pink, by Alexia Abbeg, Cotton+Steel
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Cotton 100%
Quilting: machine-quilted, Isacord Thread 40, col. 0010
Binding: 1000 Colors Collection
Purple (713), Lecien
Label: Bomull, Ikea

(Easy) Table runner

This year Moda Fabrics is running a 12-month contest, featuring a different designer each month. March is turn for Me and My Sister Designs, and I couldn’t resist to take a break from all the quilting that’s going around here and spend some afternoons working on the featured pattern, a table runner.

One of the requisites for entering is that all the fabric used must be from Moda (that makes sense, doesn’t it?). I do have several collections and prints from Moda in my stash, but I decided to play with a Moda Scrap Bag and just go with what was inside (this bag contains left-overs from cutting other pre-cuts, and there’s no way to know what’s inside each one… it’s a lottery!). So, in a sense, I didn’t choose the fabrics for this one… I added some Grunge as a contrasting solids, and a favourite from Zen Chic for the border.

For piecing the strips together, I cut them ½” longer than required, and alternated the direction of sewing (one up, one down) to avoid ending with a curved piece. I broke the main panel into three sections, sewed each one, trimmed to size, and the sewed them together. It worked quite well!

It’s a pretty quick project (I managed to have it completed in four afternoons, quilting included!), and I really like this summer-ly look it has (the weather also helps in that feeling…). It makes me think of picnics with sandwiches…

Project: Table runner
Size: 16″ x 50″/ 40.5 x 127 cm
Date: March 2017
Pattern: Easy Table Runner, Me and My Sister Designs
Top fabric: Coral, Queen of the Sea, by Stacy Iest Tsu, for Moda Fabrics
                  Grunge (several colours), by Basic Grey, for Moda Fabrics
Border, Backing: Hey Dot!, by Zen Chic, for Moda Fabrics
Batting: Fusible Thermolam TP971, Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilted, Star Thread 30WT

Moda’s Frivol n. 10: “Sugar”

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This is my Christmas project for this year! I started it in July having already in mind the idea to use it as a table-topper for the Christmas season. I loved the Frivol’s tin, the fabric, and the pattern. And it didn’t seem difficult, so there I went. But this little one was, if nothing, a journey of mistakes and lots, lots, lots of learning.

Firstly, I decided to starch the fabric (it was pre-cut). I use a water-based starch, and, guess what, there was shrinkage. A lot. I mean, I was lucky that I could follow the cutting instructions, because the shrinkage was so huge that I almost didn’t have enough fabric for the pattern cutting requirements. Fortunately, not all the pre-cuts in the tin were needed, so there were a couple of cutting-error victims that went directly to the scraps bin.

Piecing itself was not complicated and really quick. But then came the quilting part. I’d already decided to quilt in the ditch, but I interrupted the first attempt before I had finished the first block. It was a disaster. My walking foot front part is really narrow and it’s really difficult to see where the needle drops, so the resulting quilting was everywhere but in the ditch. I unpicked the stitches, and thought of a second plan.

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Which was eco-quilting the squares. In the second attempt I found I couldn’t rely on following my foot as a guide, so unpicking again it was; and then I marked the quilting lines without removing the safety pins I’ve used for basting. Wonky lines are a short term for what came out.

At the end: I pulled the fabric too much; my machine is really tiny to hold large quilts (and this one wasn’t specially large!), so there are irregular stitches -even using the walking foot!- due to wrongly feeding the quilt into the machine. And the border is, in no ways, square.

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I washed the quilt before adding the binding. I used a 2 1/2″ wide binding strip, but now I think it should have been less, perhaps 2 1/4″.

And I attached a label!!

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Overall, I’m really happy with the results. I learnt a lot from my own mistakes, and now I’m enjoying a new, beautiful table-topper, with all its imperfections.

This quilt was on exhibition in my local quilt shop, that’s why this post is so late, even it was finished a couple of months ago. It was also featured in a short Q&A at Cotton&Color’s blog.

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Project: Table-topper / Wall hanging
Size: 11″ x 14 1/4″/ 27.5 x 36 cm
Date: July 2016- September 2016
Pattern: Sugar, by Sweetwater (Moda Frivol n. 10)
Top fabric: The Cookie Exchange, by Sweetwater, for Moda Fabrics
Border: Galeria, Gail Marie, P&B Textiles
Backing fabric: unknown, a fabric purchased four years (?) ago
Batting: Regular Thermolam TP970, Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilted, Scanfil Organic 4801
Binding: Quilter’s Linen, Robert Kaufmann
Label: Bomull, Ikea

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Two table runners

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These two table-runners were a special request from my mother, who also picked the fabric for them (a charm  pack) and gave me the final dimensions they should have. My main concern was to make the most of the fabric, and after some research, I decided for the hour-glass block, following this tutorial by Amy Smart (Diary of a quilter). I learnt a couple of things on the way about working with hour-glass blocks:

– When cutting the HST, watch out to keep the diagonal always in the same direction, otherwise, seams won’t nest.

– Look out for the diagonals when assembling blocks, and pin!

I assembled the blocks in columns instead of rows, so I wouldn’t have so many points to match. I found it rather difficult joining the columns together, as the seams had so much bulk. I did spin the central seams, and that helped in quilting, but didn’t affect the columns at all. Lots of seam-ripper went into these in order to get better matching points.

And to match the given dimensions, I opted to add the border in the second of them, when I run out of the main fabric. I must say that there were no left-overs from the charm-pack, and the border comes from a bundle I purchased some time ago, in order to stash some neutral fabric (and that came pretty handy in this case!)

As the table runners would be topped with lots of things, I kept the quilting pretty simple, just ecoing some of the diagonals. The binding is one of my favourite fabric lines for the job: Quilter’s Linen, by Robert Kaufman. I just love this rust colour… and I stashed it from a sale!

My mother loved the final result and I’m really happy of how these two turned out (and that I was able to finish them in due date!).

Project: Two table runners
Size: (1) 11″ x 28″ / 28 x 71 cm (2) 11″ x 31″ / 28 x 79 cm
Date: January, 2016June, 2016
Pattern: Hour-glass blocks
Top fabric: Jelly Bean, by Laundry Basket Quilts, Moda Fabrics
                  (border) Rove Indienne, French General, Moda Fabrics
Backing fabric: unknown, caramel fabric
Batting: Regular Thermolam TP970 (100% polyester), Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilt, Star Mercerized Egyptian Cotton, WT 30 Colour 480.
Binding: Quilter’s Linen 9864-179 (Rust), Robert Kaufman Fabrics

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Red teapot mini-quilt

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This pattern is part of this year’s BoM by Cotton&Color, for which I already made my block. But I really love the design and wanted to try to English-paper piece it instead of following the foundation-paper method that so much trouble caused me. And I needed a little gift, so here it is. And I must admit I am so happy with the result! English-paper piecing is slower, and it involves, of course, hand-sewing, but it reduces drastically the waste of fabric, and allows for fussy-cutting, which is indeed a bonus! It only needs to be taken into account that, when cutting, pieces that are not symmetrical need to be face right side of the template – wrong side of the fabric (and you can guess how I learnt that, don’t you?).

The red fabrics come all from my (little) stash. The background fabric may ring a bell, as I also use it for The Splendid Sampler blocks. The quilting is pretty simple; the teapot is stitched on the ditch, and I ecoed the frame to give more sturdiness to the quilt. I made a mistake whilst basting and so the quilting resents from it. For the future, I must remember that even the smallest quilt needs to be secured with tape in its three layers before pinning.

For the binding…it was as the natural choice to use this Cotton & Steel print. I added this to my stash not very long ago and fits just perfectly. I cut it to 2″ wide instead of 2 ¼”, which is my normal choice for binding. I think it suits better the dimensions of this mini.

This little teapot can be used as place mat or can be hanged as a wall-quilt, thanks to two pockets added to the back. It will be on the recipient to decide which use to give it!

Project: Teapot mini-quilt
Size: 11″ x 14 1/4″/ 27.5 x 36 cm
Date: March 2016
Pattern: Block of the Month Mystery Quilt 2016 (February), Cotton&Color
Top fabric: Red fabrics scraps from stash
                  Modern Background Paper (Pattern 1583), by Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics
Backing fabric: Pascale Beatrix Tissus TX 64643
Batting: Regular Thermolam TP971 (fusible), Legacy
Quilting: machine-quilt, Gutermann Cotton618
Binding: Black&White, Cotton + Steel Fabrics

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Table runner

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I needed a table runner for my dinning-room, and I loved this pattern by The Fat Quarter Shop since the moment it was released. And it turned out it had the right dimensions! Keeping the pattern in mind, I came across some charm packs from the Baby Jane collection and I absolutely fell in love with it!

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The quilt top went together pretty quickly (at least, for my standards of piecing, which normally is very slow) and with almost no use of the seam-ripper (!!), but I had it parked aside to work on other projects and -basically- to avoid quilting it. Quilting is the part of the process with which I’m less comfortable (in fact, I’m not comfortable at all with quilting). I know some free-motion quilting, but my machine doesn’t have a big throat space so for this one it was out of the question. I decided for straight-line quilting, and after consider different options (stitch in the ditch, horizontal lines) I settle for the 45º diagonal.

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As the top was mostly in white, I avoided the use of markers of any kind and went with the painter’s tape as a guide. It worked great! Also a walking-foot helps a lot. And as for the needles, I tried a Topstitch needle, but I think it was not the correct size for the thread and switched to an universal needle, which worked fine.

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The backing comes from a fabric I purchased some time ago in a fabric store -the ones where you can find different types of fabric, not only quilting cottons-. I purchased it for a specific idea that in the end didn’t materialised, so I’m glad I found a suitable use for it.

The binding is self-made from yardage, I love to make my own binding and not being limited by the choices of already-made binding available in the stores. And hand-sewing the binding to the back is highly addictive, I finished the quilt in no time! Now I don’t have enough time, but wouldn’t this look fantastic with Christmas-themed fabrics?

Project: Table runner
Size: 14 1/2″ x 58 1/4″ / 37 x 148 cm
Date: July, 2015 – November, 2015
Pattern: Mini Charm Mix table runner, The Fat Quarter Shop
Top fabric: Baby Jane, by Eric & Julia Comstock of Cosmo Cricket, Moda Fabrics
                  Bella Solids 9900 98 – White Bleached, Moda Fabrics
Backing fabric: Pascale Beatrix Tissus TX 64643
Batting: 100% Cotton batting -unknown producer.
Quilting: machine-quilt, Gutermann Polyester 101.
Binding: Quilter’s Linen 9864, Robert Kaufman Fabrics

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Square-in-a-square blanket

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This is the other blanket I sewed pairing the tumbler-blanket posted last week. In this case, I also designed a specific pattern to fit the backing I already had. It took a bit lot of drawing and changing my mind two or three times in the process, including discarding a half-sewn quilt, until I decided for the square-in-a-square pattern combined with squares of prints (I wanted them to stand out, I really love this collection for a child’s quilt!). I thought that the big prints needed some bit of solid to contrast and give some space for the eye to rest. I’m not a big fan of yellow, but in this case I think it really suits the overall collection and gives a smooth look to all of it.

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I added the border to make the most of the backing, and to have a clean line for sewing while attaching it (so I didn’t have to fight with matching points in the last moment). It also adds a finishing touch that I really like.

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Other factor I took into consideration was that I’m not confident enough to work with triangles, specially when, as it was the case, I don’t have much time to work on a quilt. The sq-in-a-sq blocks are made by sewing squares on the diagonal and trimming the extra fabric out -which was conveniently chain-pieced in pairs of solid-print triangles so now I have a bunch of HST ready to go!-. In the end, it turned out that I barely used the seam ripper in this one! How amazing is that? When you put a seam together and, when opening it, all points match??

Project: Child blanket.
Size: 40 3/4″ x 33″ / 103,5 x 84 cm
Date: September, 2015 – October, 2015
Pattern: square-in-a-square blocks combined with squares of printed fabric
Top fabric: Just Dreamy 2, by Zoe Pearn for My Mind’s Eye, Riley Blake Designs
                1000 Colors Collection, n. 42049, Lecien
                Bella Solids 9900 98 – White Bleached, Moda Fabrics
Backing fabric: polar fleece
Batting: none.
Quilting: none.

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Baby blanket -tumbler pattern-

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This is one of the two blankets I sewed as gifts for a friend. It is the first quilt I have made without following a given pattern from a third party. I already had the backing – a piece of polar fleece that was the perfect size for a baby quilt-, so whatever pattern I’d choose I was to adapt it to its size.

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I fell in love with the fabrics as soon as I saw them in the shop. They demanded a pattern to showcase the big prints, and I wanted something simple -as it was for a child-. I think the tumbler pattern ticks all the boxes: it’s simple but not as it would a square pattern, showcases the fabrics and looks fun and dynamic. I did not have a tumbler ruler, so I draw my own template on cardboard, adjusting it to the dimensions I needed to make the most of the backing. Pros of working with self-made templates: you can adjust them to your needs. Cons: you can not use the rotary cutter with them, so an extra step in drawing them to the fabric is required.

Project: Child blanket.
Size: 43″ x 33 ¼”
Date: September, 2015 – October, 2015
Pattern: tumbler pattern (self-made template 6 ½”)
Top fabric: Just Dreamy 2, by Zoe Pearn for My Mind’s Eye, Riley Blake Designs
Backing fabric: polar fleece
Batting: none.
Quilting: none.

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I will make a different post for the other blanket, so I can document each project properly!

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