Wednesday 12 November 2014

Jacob's Ladder & Job's Tears

Remember that fabric I got in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I blogged about here. I didn't like the polka dot fabric, so bought an alternate fabric at my LQS - the light aqua in the pictures below. You'll see the polka dot fabric in a future project, but meanwhile I've started on Amy's quilt. Here are the first two blocks:
That's Jacob's Ladder on the left and Job's Tears on the right. The quilt is the Far Above Rubies quilt, and you can find the directions here. These two blocks were quite easy and worked up quickly. There are downloadable templates for all of the blocks in this quilt, but I'm not a big template fan, and only use them if I really need to, like the pink sections in the Job's tears block. For the light aqua sections in this block, I used the Recs tool from the Tri Recs ruler set. I did print out the templates just to measure and be sure I got the sizes right for the rest of the pieces. The template sheets also include a layout drawing and I used that to mark which fabric I was using in which spot. 
I'm really happy with how these fabrics look together. I can hardly wait to see what the whole quilt will look like. I just finished the quilt top for the Unbroken quilt and felt that it lacked that "wow factor" that I think these blocks have. It's still going to be a pretty quilt, but it just seems to lack that je ne sais quoi that gives it impact. It's a more scrappy quilt, so I don't know if it's the lack of cohesiveness or just the fabric choice that detracts from its eye appeal. I'm going into Sparrow Studioz to quilt it on Friday, so will probably share it next week and you can see what you think.Of course, I felt similarly about the Wild Mustangs quilt and I got a lot of compliments on that one. I believe it was more popular than the Law School quilt and I had thought it would be the opposite. The Law School quilt was so vibrant and colourful that I think I favoured that one more. I guess it's different strokes for different folks. 

Tuesday 11 November 2014

So You Think You Can Quilt

I have a tendency to compose blog posts in my mind while I'm driving. Some of them never actually get posted, but some of my best thoughts come while I'm between here and the city. I was in the city a week or so ago and mentally working on this post on the way home. Remember the sampler quilt top I made when I reviewed that quilting book? Well, I was trying to remember the name of the book and what came to my mind was, "So You Think You Can Quilt." No, I knew that was not the book's title, but I decided that would be a good name for this quilt anyway. (You can find the original post here). It's a sampler quilt, constructed by following the directions in a "how to" quilt book. And when it came to the actual quilting part, I was putting to use the skills I learned in my machine quilting class. So I figured that was an appropriate name for this quilt. 
Here it is:
I confess I really didn't like that border on it. I intended for it to pick up the blues in one of the black fabrics, but it just didn't work like I wanted it to. 
I still need lots of practice quilting, but it's coming. I bought a couple of new stencils when I was in the city and decided to try using my Pounce for the first time. Not happy. The white chalk dust barely showed up on the black print fabric and not at all on the pink fabric. Am I doing something wrong? Maybe I need to try the blue or the pink pounce (though the pink wouldn't show up on the pink fabric either.  I tried to use my blue quilt marker, but it didn't show up on the black print either. So I resorted to tracing paper, which is not my favourite machine quilting method, but it worked. I did use a stencil and marking pen for quilting the border, however. 
Here's a closeup of some of the quilting:
Sorry, the camera flash washed it out quite a bit. I need to refine my camera skills. 
I chose to use a variegated pink 40 weight Signature thread. (I used that brand because it was what was available at my LQS). I really love variegated thread (and variegated yarn, for that matter). I'm not sure what the appeal is for me, but I choose to use it whenever I can. However, the blocks and fabrics in this quilt are too "busy" for the variegations to make a significant impact. It makes more sense to use a variegated thread in a quilt with more plain or solid fabrics, like the Law School quilt. Lesson learned. I will keep that in mind for next time. Though I suppose it also depends on the look I want to achieve. If I don't want the quilting to stand out and a variegated would blend in better, then I'd go with that. For this particular quilt, even against the black, the variegated pink doesn't show up that well. If I had wanted my stitching to really stand out, a solid bright pink probably would have worked better. But as I am still learning, I'm not so sure that I want my stitching to really stand out yet. 
I used a different quilting motif for each block and a border stencil for the border. I had to modify it slightly as it was a little wide for the border. On the sashing, I just made a zig-zag pattern using my walking foot. 
Here's the back:
I love this fabric. I wish I had more of it. This quilt is 30" square, so either a table topper or a cat quilt. I could use it as a wallhanging, but didn't put a hanging sleeve on.
And here's the fabric I bought at Fabricland:
I used to love the Pink Panther and with a purple background, I can't lose, especially since it was in the clearance section at $2.50 a metre. This is a flannel fabric and will become the backing on a flannel quilt. I bought what was left on the bolt.
I couldn't resist this one, especially since it was also $2.50 a metre. Unfortunately, what was left on the bolt was in two separate pieces - 1.4 metres and 1.6 metres, but I'm hoping I can make it work for a backing as well.  I also stopped in Michael's and looked at art supplies. I could have kicked myself as I forgot both my art supply list for my Craftsy course and my 20% off Michael's coupon. But I got back there a couple of days ago and remembered my coupon and list, plus I had another coupon for 40% off one item and an Airmiles coupon for 5x the Airmiles, so the second trip was worthwhile. They also sell one of those plastic tag gun thingies for quilt basting. Cheaper than the one at Fabricland. Have any of you ever used one of those? I figure it's got to be easier than pin basting. 
Since I had taken the live Machine Quilting Class, I decided to use my dubious quilting skills to finish this sampler from my online machine quilting class.
I have to admit that this looks kind of like a map - the purple is water and the orange is land. Here's a close up of what was supposed to be swirls:
It just wasn't coming together for me. And here's my stipling:
I don't know if free motion is ever going to work well for me. I was never really a doodler, even with pen and paper, so doodling with my sewing machine is even more of a challenge. Here's the back:
This one is only 24" square, so definitely a cat quilt. Actually, the cats have already been using it before I finished it. I had it folded up on a corner of the sewing table and that's where one of them would sleep when he/she wanted to keep me company, although they haven't been doing that since I moved the sewing stuff to the basement.
My buddy Phil, who is also a cat lover, once asked me if I'd made the cats any quilts yet. Now I can say yes. Actually, all of my samplers from the machine quilting class will be cat quilts as well. I just need to get my serger back from servicing so I can serge the edges. And hopefully, they will help keep the cat hair off the furniture. 
As it's Remembrance Day today, I watched the ceremonies in Ottawa today on TV. Here's one of my favourite videos to help keep our veterans in mind: