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Sunday, June 30, 2013

X Plussing on Carnaby Street

In keeping with my whole stash busting mission, and because I've been just itching to cut into some bright, modern fabrics after the soft shabby chic tones of Polkadots and Posies, I decided to pull out all of my fabric leftovers from my Carnaby Street Chic quilt and start mulling over a design that would do justice to their awesomeness.

After seeing THIS quilt at Bijou Lovely and THESE awesome blocks by Laura at Little and Lots, I decided on an X Plus quilt.  The block kind of reminds me of a Union Jack, which is fitting because the Carnaby Street fabrics are all about the groovy fashion of 1960's London.

Instead of a scrappy look, I decided on two shades of gray as the background (Kona Coal and Kona Iron) to really show the fabric line.  Although I'm happy with the choices of gray, I have to say that the un-scrappy look certainly doesn't do any favors for hiding mistakes.  The dark gray plusses were tough to match up, and I wasn't completely successful.  Imperfect?  Yes.  But I still love it.

For the backing, I took all of the little bits and pieces of leftover fabric and just started piecing.  It was so much fun, and I'm getting a lot better at sewing without a plan.  I totally feel like I'm expanding my modern quilting street cred with all this improv.  

I had to add a couple of borders because the pieces weren't quite enough to make a full backing, but the bright pink and teal are the perfect shades!  

Can't wait to get it quilted and bound because this one's all for me!  :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beginner QAL- Quilting!

Time to get this baby quilted!  We're going to be doing straight line quilting, echoing each long horizontal seam on both sides of the seam.

Before we start, I want to remind you to leave your pins alone while quilting!  Remember, when we basted our quilt, the top and bottom were smooth.  Trust that they are placed where they should be.  When your quilt is shoved into the small space around your needle it may seem like your quilt is bunchy.  You may think you need to move your pins to "fix" it.  Don't.  Instead, you should frequently stop to move the quilt (not the pins), and smooth it out around your needle.

Also, keep in mind that this part can get heavy.  You may want to stop and take breaks periodically.  You'll be working with the full weight of the quilt, and that can take some maneuvering.

Okay, lets meet one of the best friends of quilters everywhere- the walking foot!

What makes quilting different from other kinds of sewing?  Well, you're feeding three bulky layers through your machine!  Your sewing machine has feed dogs (yes, that's really what they're called!) that feed the fabric.  The problem is, it can only feed the bottom layer, or the backing of your quilt.  

Take a good, hard look at your walking foot.  See those little teeth things?  That's the walking foot magic.  The walking foot has those little feeders to feed both the top and bottom layers of your quilt evenly.  This helps give you smooth quilting with no wrinkles or puckers- and that's what we all want!

So, make sure your walking foot is put on your machine properly.  Then line it up with the seam in the middle of the quilt.  We're going to quilt from the center outward to the right.  You may want to roll your quilt so that it fits in the throat of you machine more easily.

Use the left side teeth as a guide.  Keep it lined up on your seam like this.  Your needle will sew to the side of the seam, not on top of it.

Backstitch to lock your seam, then quilt all the way down the length of your quilt.  Don't push or pull your quilt through your machine- just guide it.  Keep the weight of the quilt supported in your lap and you shouldn't need to do that.  Take it slow and keep that walking foot lined up on your seam as best you can.  Backstitch at the end as well.  Your seam will look like this-

Cut your threads and get ready to quilt on the other side of the seam, lining up the walking foot just as before, only using the other side as your guide.

When you have both sides of your seam quilted, it will look like this!

Now, move your quilt to the right and quilt the next seam in the same way.  Continue quilting until you've reached the end of your quilt.

At this point, you have half of your quilt finished!  It's time to do the other side in the exact same way.  Flip your quilt around, and again start in the center, moving to the right, echoing the seams on both sides.

When you are finished with all of the quilting, remove your pins, then use scissors or a rotary cutter (I use scissors) to trim off excess batting and backing.  If you have rows of bricks on one side that are shorter, you should trim to the shortest brick.

Congratulations to you for finishing your quilting!  Fighting the weight of a quilt, and shoving it through your machine just takes patience and practice!  

Now that know how to use your walking foot and quilt with straight lines, there's no end to what you can do!  All straight lines are quilted the same way, you can just change the direction you choose, or the seams you follow.  You can even quilt in one direction, then pivot your quilt and continue to quilt in another direction to follow straight line shapes like triangles, squares, or zig-zags!  The possibilities are limitless! 

Only one more step and you'll have it finished!  Binding is next week!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader!

This is just a quick post to remind you that Google Reader is saying goodbye very soon.  Like- Sunday.  Don't worry though, if you're a Google Reader follower, you have lots of options to stay in the loop with all of my posts!

I use Bloglovin' as my reader, and I really like it!  If you use Bloglovin' but have not claimed your blog, just  leave me a comment so that I can follow back.  Bloglovin' will give me the names of my followers, but I'll have no way of knowing what blog is yours unless you've claimed it there.

You can also follow with Pinterest, Feedly, or even subscribe by email!  All of the buttons are right on my sidebar, so hopefully the transition will be pretty easy!

One word about Feedly- as yet, Feedly does not have a way for me to see who follows me at all, so if you're using Feedly, just leave a quick comment to let me know!  I like to stay connected with my followers!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Needle and Thread Thursday Time!

Thanks to all once again for kicking NTT off to such a rocking start!  Last week, we had 35 fantastic projects linked up (woohoo!) and I truly enjoyed browsing through each one and got tons of great inspiration!  Here are a few of the projects that really grabbed my attention-

Janet at Simply Pieced shared this fantastic quilt-

Modern Material Girl had two gorgeous granny square quilt tops (you'll have to check her out to see the other one!)-

and Paula, The Sassy Quilter, finished this Dresden plate top with such fun colors!

Nothing new to share on my end, since I finished Polkadots and Posies yesterday and posted.  I hope you'll check it out if you missed it!  

Okay y'all, let's see what awesomeness you've got this week!  Time to link it up!

A few friendly guidelines-

1.  This is a link party for quilting and sewing.  As a quilter, of course that's my passion, but I won't nit-pick.  If you made it using a needle and thread, it works!

2.  Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.

3.  Please post the Needle and Thread Thursday button somewhere on your blog, or include a text link in your post.  Help spread the word!  More links mean more fun for everyone!

4.  Visit plenty of other links, and be generous with your comment love.  :)

5.  Please become a follower of My Quilt Infatuation.  It's not a requirement to link, but I truly appreciate it- and I follow back!  Just leave a quick comment to let me know you're a new follower!
(ps- I love comments too!)

Polkadots and Posies

I just finished putting the binding on my HST quilt, and now that it's finished, I do like it better.  I think it will make a sweet quilt for a little girl.

It took awhile for me to get into the groove of quilting this one.  My thread broke a few times before i realized that it was wrapped around my sewing machine handle, and then there was this-

I've broken needles on safety pins before, but I have never had this happen.  I immediately freaked out, worried that I had messed up my machine, then remembered that Hydeeann from Splish Splash Stash had this happen a few days ago, and her machine was fine-which was reassuring.  I'll never make the mistake of thinking I can sew that close to a pin again!

After much annoyance, I managed to finish the stippling on the quilt (I really must try another kind of FMQ, but I just love it!).  I kept the stippling fairly wide so that the quilt would stay soft and drapey.

With the polkadot backing and binding, as well as some polkadots in the April Cornell fabric, I've decided to call this one Polkadots and Posies.  I almost called it Pocket Full of Posies, but with my previous Ring Around the Rosy quilt, I thought that would be high on the cheese factor.  This label is one of the neatest ones I've done (writing on fabric neatly is harder than it sounds).  If you're wondering how I make and attach my labels- without hand stitching and without the stitches showing on the front, you can find a tutorial HERE as part of the Beginner QAL.  It's really easy!

I managed to use every single scrap of this fabric by also piecing the backing, so it is 100% gone!  It always makes me happy when I don't have leftovers (those multiply when you're not looking, you know).  I went with asymmetry on the backing, and I'm happy I did!  It's much more interesting!

Well, I still have a huge (40 FQ) bundle of April Cornell's Spring Magic that I need to use (again, very pretty fabric, but not exactly my style lately).  I tried to find a single picture of all the fabrics, but the best I could find after so long is a link to the Moda brochure HERE.  Once I use that, that will be the end of my shabby chic fabrics!

ps- don't forget, tomorrow is Needle and Thread Thursday!  I hope you'll link up!

Monday, June 24, 2013

HST Quilt on a Mission

I am on a mission.  A mission to make quilts of the FQ sets I already have sitting in my stash without buying more fabric.  Except backing fabric.  Or any fabric I see that is so awesome that I cannot live another day without it.  Or any fabric that is fabulous and is on sale.  But I digress... A serious mission, I tell you!

So in the name of resourcefulness, I pulled out some fabric that has been sitting in my stash for over three years.  Now, that sounds like a long time, but I had wrist surgery a year ago, and in trying to avoid that surgery, I took almost two years off from quilting before that.  That was a bummer.  So, in my defense, if you subtract all of the time I wasn't actually quilting, the fabric hasn't really been sitting around that long.

This is April Cornell for Moda fabric and I think it's called Poetry (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) except for the gingham which is from my stash.  It really is amazing how my taste in fabric has changed.  Not that this fabric is unattractive, because it's actually very pretty, but I'm fairly sure I wouldn't buy it today.  Lately, I've been drawn to more bold colors with a more graphic vibe (think Soul Blossoms or Carnaby Street).  That being said, it was just sitting in my cabinet and not hideous, so something really had to be done with it.  It would be ignored no longer.

I decided a simple HST quilt was in order since I've never done one.  Raspberry Limeade was a chevron quilt, which I know is kind of the same thing, but for some reason, I don't really count that since the finished look is totally different.

It really needed a fresh burst of white to make the colors pop since they are muted and the white HST's I threw in just weren't cutting it, so I added a white border, which also had the added bonus of making it a little bit bigger.  I think it makes it feel a little more fresh.

What about you?  Do you have fabrics sitting in your stash that don't wow you anymore?  What are they?

By the way, week 3 is underway at Plum and June's New Blogger Blog Hop.  Check out the fantastic blogs up this week!

                                                            Plum and June

Leigh Ann @ Ella's Cottage
Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt
Sarah @ Quilt Candy
Jackie @ NW Patchwork
Erica @ Happy Fabric
Stephanie @ Simple Sewendipity
Lauren @ Seraphym

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sand and Sea Glass Finished!

Wild thing had a baseball tournament this weekend in a town over an hour away (I really would like to know who schedules these things).  In these tournaments, it's best to just plan to hang around the ball field all day long since the schedule is determined by whether you win or lose.  That poses a problem for us because of our (seriously cute, but extremely neurotic) dog (see his picture HERE).  He can't be left alone all day long (possibly longer than a full work day), and pets aren't allowed at these tournaments.

Unfortunately, that means that I miss wild thing's baseball games in these circumstances, which I really hate.  I never miss his games if I can help it.  As much as I wish I could have been at his baseball games, it meant I had the day at home...all by myself... to spend however I wished.  hmmmm...

I stared at my house in disarray and thought of all the things I should do, and then made the decision to quilt and bind my latest quilt.  Was there ever really a question?

I opted to quilt with stippling for a few reasons.  I love the soft, crinkly texture it gives the quilt and it doesn't look too harsh.  Also, since the Double Slice pattern is random-ish, I thought the stippling fit nicely.  It is my favorite kind of quilting, and since I've done straight line quilting in my last two quilts, I've really missed it!  I still don't consider my stippling to be perfect, but I'm getting a lot better at keeping my spacing even- and no crossovers or puckers either.  Yay!

I did do a solid backing instead of a pieced backing though, because I found the darkest taupe fabric in a 90 inch width.  That happens so infrequently, so I figured I might as well use it!

I think the scrappy binding works with the feel of the quilt and keeps it looking like sea glass scattered out on the beach, without "framing" it too much.  The blog post HERE has more details about my inspiration for this quilt.

The finished quilt measures 72 x 72 and I've named it Sand and Sea Glass.  I think it fits perfectly.  I just love this aqua fabric in the label, and I think it really fits with the sea glass theme of the quilt.

All in all, the more I worked on this quilt, the more it grew on me.  Although it really isn't a quilt I would have thought to make without the specific request of a friend, I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  I'll give it to him when we head to Baton Rouge at the end of July, and I hope he likes it as well!

Beginner QAL- Basting Your Quilt

First off, let's all take a look at our finished quilt tops and pat ourselves on the back- yay!  Piecing the quilt top is by far my most favorite part of the quilting process.  I just think it's so fantastic to watch little bits of fabric become transformed into an idea that was in my head.

I have to tell you though, basting is my absolute least favorite part.  I don't tell you that to discourage you or to sway your opinion of this part.  Rather, I am telling you so that if you happen to get frustrated and have the overwhelming desire to yell curse words and pull out your hair during this part, I want you to know that you are not alone.

Okay y'all, I know this week's post title says "basting your quilt," but this week really includes three short tasks- piecing the backing, basting the quilt, and labeling your quilt- in that order.  I have LOTS of pictures, and I'll walk you through each step!

Piecing the Backing

Note- this is not the only way to piece a quilt backing (you can piece a backing in as many ways as you can piece a quilt top), but I am going to show you how to piece your backing with as few seams as possible, and still keep your backing interesting.  Janet from Simply Pieced used all of her extra fabric and some white to create a cool, strippy backing for her brick quilt.  Check out this awesomeness HERE.  Don't worry though, Janet's not a beginner, and we'll keep it much simpler.

*Always keep in mind that the more seams you have, the more difficulty you could have getting your backing to lay smoothly.

First, take your leftover bricks and half bricks and lay them out randomly in rows.  We're going to actually make these rows wider than our quilt top, so use your leftovers to lay out two rows that are the equivalent length of seven full bricks (whereas our quilt top is six full bricks wide).  Feel free to get creative here and include lots of those half pieces!  Sew the bricks into rows, and sew the two rows together, just like we did in our top.

**These two rows will go across the back of our quilt and just add a little bit of interest.  If you would rather just have a single fabric backing, you can leave this step out.

If your backing fabric is extremely wrinkly, give it a quick press.  Take your backing fabric and fold it in half lengthwise, so that it is 1.25 yards long (instead of the full 3.5).  Slide your scissors into the fold that you just made, and cut the fabric in half.  This is an easy way to avoid handling that much fabric on your cutting mat, and it gives you two equal pieces.

Sew the first half of the backing fabric to the top of the brick rows (right sides together).  There will be extra fabric, but we'll cut it off later.  Then sew the other half to the bottom of the brick rows (right sides together).  Be careful when you sew your backing together that you keep your seam as even as possible, or else the backing won't lay flat and you'll have puckers in the back.

If you opted not to include bricks, just sew the two halves of the backing fabric together and you have your backing!

Finally, press the seams of your backing, and trim off the excess backing fabric to even it up with the brick rows.  Voila!  A quilt backing!

Now, you've probably noticed that the backing is a good bit longer than the quilt.  That's okay!  Too much is always better than too little, and that fabric can be used for other projects.  Plus, it really won't be very much at all once we get finished.

Next Step...Basting!

Lay your backing out on the floor, or somewhere it can be taped down with the right side down.  Begin by finding the center of your brick rows and marking them with a long piece of painter's tape on each side.  We will use these tape marks to make sure that the center of our top is aligned with the center of our backing.

Begin taping down the edges and smoothing out wrinkles so that the backing is taut (but not stretched).  I'm not going to lie to you- this is the tough part.  Try not to pull too hard, or you'll stretch your fabric out and actually add wrinkles to your backing.  Keep smoothing and taping until your backing lays as flat as you can get it.

*After this point, try not to step on, or move the backing in any way.

Then lay out your batting and smooth it out over the backing.  Finally, lay out your quilt top, matching the center of the quilt with center of the backing (use the tape guides that we made earlier).  Smooth the quilt top out from the center, making sure that you keep your center aligned with the tape on both sides, and making sure you don't have any wrinkles.

Cut away any excess batting, leaving about an inch all the way around your quilt.  I save this batting to make little quilt sandwiches to practice my free motion quilting skills.  It would also be perfect for pillows or doll quilts.

Now we're ready to pin!  Start by placing a pin in the very center brick, with the safety pin laying in the direction of the brick.  Add a pin to the center of EACH brick, working from the center and smoothing as needed.

We're placing our pins in a way that we won't have to move them at all until we're finished quilting.  There is nothing worse than having to move a pin while quilting, and that causing a wrinkle in your backing.  I'm showing you a picture here of what NOT to do, because I just started pinning without any real thought as to where my quilting lines would be, and I ended up having to move a lot of pins while quilting.  That worked out okay for me, but as a beginner, I don't want you to have to do that.  :)

See the pins all willy-nilly?   Save yourself some trouble and don't do that.

The very last step is to cut away excess backing, leaving about 1-1.5 inches all the way around your quilt.

Congratulations!  You've managed to baste your first quilt.  Aren't you so glad you've been able to crawl around on the floor for the last half hour!  (seriously, the most tedious part is now over!)

Labeling Your Quilt

Why should you label your quilt?  Because you are creating a work of art and a piece of history, and you should be proud of it!  So, we're going to make a really simple, but really cute label that doesn't involve the computer, other special tools, or hand stitching- 'cause y'all know that I hate hand stitching!

I love the personal touch that handwritten labels give to a quilt, and with this method, you can create a label that matches your quilt perfectly!

Start with a piece of plain white fabric- really, any light color will do.  Use a permanent fabric pen to write whatever you want on your label.

At the very least, it should have your name and the date.  I've also included the name of my quilt on my label.  Don't worry about centering it too much, but don't write right beside the edge either.

Use your ruler to trim away excess fabric, leaving half an inch all the way around your words.  See...all centered!

Then choose four of your fabrics from your excess and sew to the edges, trimming off any extra length.  Press your label with starch, and use your rotary cutter and ruler to trim the border to the same width all around.

Turn your quilt over and find the bottom left corner (as you are looking at the back).  Remove a few of the pins from that corner, about 3 or 4 should do it.

Affix your label to the backing in that corner with pins.  Separate the three layers and zig-zag stitch the label all the way around to the backing ONLY.  Be extra careful not to catch any of your batting or quilt top in this process.

Sew only to the backing fabric!

an adorable and quick label!

Turn your quilt back over, smooth it out, and replace the pins.  Now and forever more, anyone who looks at your marvelous quilt will know who made it, and when!

I don't attach the label to the backing before basting because some of the backing gets cut away, and I want to be sure my placement is perfect.

I always attach the label before quilting for two reasons.  One is because I don't want my label stitches showing on the front of the quilt (and I don't want to hand stitch).  Secondly, I want to quilt through my label so that it can't easily be removed.

Whew!  we accomplished a lot.  Next week... quilting!  Hooray!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beach Inspiration

I'm working on a quilt for a friend, who is pretty special to both my husband and to me.  He was my husband's youth choir director throughout high school, and then moved (across the state) to my church and was my youth choir director in the following years.  During that time, he encouraged each of us to pursue music in college, and as it happened, my husband and I ended up attending the same college (a tiny, private school in Shreveport, LA- I later transferred to LSU).  It happened to be Sidney's alma mater.  Of course, this is where we met.  Fast forward almost three years, and Sidney ended up marrying us.  

So, when he asked for a specific kind of quilt, I certainly wanted to accommodate his request.  He asked for a quilt in shades of taupe, cream and white, with sort of a spa feeling- very soft and clean.  After some looking around, here is the picture that I used for inspiration (picture from

Now, let's be clear about something.  There is a huge difference between selling your quilts and taking orders for quilts- and it has nothing to do with your quilting skills.  It has everything to do with second guessing your choices, and hoping that the person who has placed the order will like it.

My biggest concern was that all of the shades of beige and cream would just blend together and be really boring, or that I would put in too much aqua for his taste.  Here's the finished top (I just love looking at quilt tops in the sunshine!)-

Although this is a huge departure from the kinds of quilts I usually make, I think that I captured the essence of the pictures and the soothing feel he wanted in the colors.  I still worry that the creams and taupes blend together too much, but it does look a bit like sea glass scattered out on the beach.  What do you think?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Big Thanks, an Apology, and Link Up!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who linked up to the very first Needle and Thread Thursday last week!  We had 27 awesome links with lots of great projects going on!  What a great way to kick off the party!  I truly enjoyed browsing through each and every link, and intend to highlight a few at the start of Needle and Thread Thursday each week.  Which reminds me about...

My apology- in creating this week's link party, I accidentally deleted last week's link code, which in turn deleted all of the links on last week's post (so no highlights this week).  :(  It happened Tuesday evening, so the links were up almost the entire week.  After pulling my hair out and gritting my teeth, I did figure out what I did wrong, so I'll be extra sure I don't click that button again in the future.  So all links will remain from now on!  Learning new technology...gotta love it.

As you may have read in my post Tuesday, my aunt and uncle have been in town since Sunday and I have taught my aunt to quilt!  We followed the Beginner Quilt Along tutorial and it was a snap!  Here's a picture of her finished quilt, and you can check out my post HERE for more details and pics.  Isn't it fantastic?  I know she's proud of it, and I was tickled to share my love of quilting with her.

And finally, it's time to link up!  Okay friends, show me what you've got!

A few friendly guidelines-

1.  This is a link party for quilting and sewing.  As a quilter, of course that's my passion, but I won't nit-pick.  If you made it using a needle and thread, it works!

2.  Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.

3.  Please post the Needle and Thread Thursday button somewhere on your blog, or include a text link in your post.  Help spread the word!  More links mean more fun for everyone!

4.  Visit plenty of other links, and be generous with your comment love.  :)

5.  Please become a follower of My Quilt Infatuation.  It's not a requirement to link, but I truly appreciate it!
(ps- I love comments too!)

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