We wish you a merry Christmas

Oh, hello there! Nice to see someone’s still checking in here occasionally.

This Christmas we had three special quilts to make. Although we planned to make quilt gifts for a couple of months before the holiday, procrastination raised it ugly head as usual and Mom and I didn’t get started until the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Yep, par for the course.

I wanted to make something special for my nephew, Austin, and had contemplated somehow incorporating his college colors (blue and yellow) and logo somehow, but midway through designing it another idea popped into my head and I ran with it. He’s a fan of Doctor Who (as am I). The colors reminded me of the night sky. What if I did an off kilter setting of various sized star blocks, with one little TARDIS floating in the middle? My first attempt was nice, but when I replaced the orange with green and pumped up the turquoise, it clicked. I fell in love with the quilt and decided that I could make it happen in three weeks. Yeah, this:

Christmas Quilt

Not asking too much, hmmm?

Normally, I would have help from my mom, but at the same time I was working on this, she turned out two more Christmas quilts. They’re both already wrapped, so I’ll have to share photos after we open gifts.

Meanwhile, I sewed and sewed and sewed – 110 hours in 3 weeks. I used this pattern from Trillium Design for the TARDIS (indicated in the design above by the blue rectangle), but I shrank it from 12″ to 8″ so I could fit it into the right space. I believe there are 79 piece in the TARDIS block alone.  Four blocks were paper pieced in addition to the TARDIS, and I used templates for one – can you guess which?

Sunday night I finished the top. Tomorrow Mom will put it on the frame and I’ll quilt it when I get home. As much as I’d love to do something really spectacular, the reality is I don’t have the skill and I need to get it done. I’m planning on an allover swirl pattern. Wish me luck. I also need to find the perfect name for this quilt. Any suggestions?

TARDIS block
 

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Quilting Gallery Vote – Flying Geese

On a whim, I entered my Flying by the Seat of My Pants mini quilt in this week’s Quilting Gallery contest.

Modify Tradition Swap

Here’s the back:

Modify Tradition Swap back

You can read about the quilt in this earlier post.

There are 22 beautiful quilts entered, so I encourage you to pop over and cast your vote. Of course I’d love it if you vote for mine, but pick the one you like best! Also, if you leave a comment AT THE CONTEST PAGE (answering the question “What fabric would you buy if you win”), you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate from Fat Quarter Shop.

Click here to go to the contest. The contest ends Monday, September 30.

Insert rude Elton John song title here

Surprise! I’m alive!

I’m going to write about something completely unrelated to the Test Your Skills Sampler.  Yes, I’ll get back to it. It will be finished, eventually. I just don’t love it right now, and because I felt guilty about not finishing it I haven’t been writing about anything else, either. Time for that to stop.

Thing 1: Nails

No, this will not morph into a nail polish blog, but I have fallen in love with nail polish and I had to share a recent manicure. I change it once or twice a week, and I always hand paint or draw it myself. I can’t take a decent photo of my own hands to save my life, plus – wow – my hands need some TLC now that I see the extreme close ups. And the designs look kind of smeary, but I promise, if you saw them for real you’d be blown away.

Left 3 Right 3

Thing 2: Mom’s Quilt

Check out these pics of a quilt Mom made for a 50th anniversary gift. The block is commonly known as Bear’s Paw but is also known as the Hand of Friendship. It started out as one thing, then morphed into another when I made a mistake in the calculations. Here’s the original EQ7 illustration:

Martin Quilt EQ7

And here’s the final quilt.

Martin Hand of Friendship Quilt

Mom & Quilt Label

Martin Hand of Friendship Quilt Label

Mom & Martin Hand of Friendship Quilt

Thing 3: Sharon’s Quilt
My cousin Sharon has recently been reinfected by the quilting bug. Here’s a semi-recent finish, shared at a Stitch & Bitch from a few months ago:

Sharon's Spinners

Thing 4: Victoria & Albert
This just popped up on my Pinterest page. Have you seen the Victoria & Albert Museum website? There’s all sorts of stuff, but what caught my eye was this Patchwork Pattern Maker. Upload a photo, adjust a few settings, and it creates a design of squares and half square triangles for you to turn into a quilt! Here’s a photo of some flowers I took years ago with my very first digital camera (it used a floppy disk as “film”):

susan and allium

And digitized, here’s the quilt:

Black Eyed Susan & Allium Patchwork

View it from a distance, and you can definitely see the pattern:

Black Eyed Susan & Allium Patchwork

Side by side:

V&A Patchwork Pattern Maker

Cool stuff, huh?

Ironwork* Quilt Along

Logo Quilt 6

Yes, it’s the design I showed in the recent post. Yes, I know it looks like an asterisk. But someone’s already done an asterisk quilt along, so it’s the Ironwork* Quilt Along (asterisk included because I think it’s mildly funny).  It only takes three people mentioning that they’d like to make it to prompt me to do this. I’m easy. Fortunately, so is this quilt! Any quilter, even the most beginner, can complete this quilt.

The block design was taken directly from the iron window coverings from a building constructed in the 1930s, so the name is appropriate. There may be another Ironwork quilt coming about soon, though, because I came across this photo and was inspired to draw it up in EQ7. One thing at a time…

Here’s a button (all Quilt Along’s must have buttons):

Ironwork* Quilt Along
<div align="center"><a href="https://piecemealquilts.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/ironwork-quilt-along/ " title="Ironwork* Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="https://piecemealquilts.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/iron-work-qal-button.jpg" alt="Ironwork* Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Okay, on to the important stuff. The Ironwork* quilt can be made in two sizes: approximately 85″ square (216 cm, good for a full/queen bed) or approximately 40″ square(102 cm). We’ll accomplish this by changing the size of the blocks. In the small quilt, the LARGE blocks will finish at 9 1/2″ and the small blocks will finish at 4 1/2″. In the large quilt, the SMALL blocks will finish at 9 1/2″ and the large blocks will finish at 20″.

This should be a fairly quick quilt, regardless of the size you choose. I’m making one of each just to be sure I get it right for the QAL! I’ll be working on the quilts this weekend, so expect the first of the instructions Saturday evening.

Yardage Requirements:

Large Version (85″ square)
“Iron” fabric (black in the illustration): 2 1/2 yards
EQ7 said 4 yards, but I calculated it and 2 1/2 should be enough.

FIVE different background fabrics: 1 1/4 yard of each.
It is important that these have 42″ selvage to selvage of usable fabric. You will use almost every scrap. If it’s less than 42″ wide you may need additional yardage. One of the fabrics will use within 2″ of the full 1 1/4 yard. Since yardage can come off the bolt crooked, resulting in a little loss, you might want 1 1/2 yard of one fabric.

Small Version (40″ square)
“Iron” fabric (black in the illustration): 1 1/4 yard

FIVE different background fabrics: 1 fat quarter of each.
It is important that these be FULL fat quarters that measure 18″ x 22″ of usable fabric. You will use almost every scrap. If it’s less than 18″ (well, 17 1/2″) you may have trouble making it fit. If you’re doing this from yardage instead of fat quarters, you need 1/2 yard of each (1/4 yard cuts will not work).

So, who’s with me on this?! Grab the button, grab some fabric, and get ready to sew! Photos can be shared in my (very, very small) Flickr group, Piecemeal Quilts Projects.

Liftoff is complete

Liftoff Quilt

And I am so proud.

Mom bound it in 8 hours and 15 minutes. I’m pleased with how the quilting looks now that I’ve stepped back from it. The quilting is essentially invisible since I only quilted in the black areas, with black thread. There are a number of spots where you see the thread travelling across the corner of a colored triangle, but from five feet away they’re unnoticeable. I tried taking pictures of the quilting, but it’s just too difficult to see.

In other news, I bought a new camera yesterday! I’ve been struggling with my old one, and I had nearly $100 in Staples rewards, plus a 20% off coupon, so I picked up this camera for just $48 and change.

It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a big step up from the old camera. One feature I know I’ll be using a lot is the black & white setting. Now I don’t even have to take a picture of the fabrics to see values – I can just set it to black & white and look at the view screen. Much faster!

Now I have to make a case for it. I took it to work today in a sock.

…and touch down

Touch down

The quilting is done. The Birds in the Air quilt, to be known as “Liftoff” from now on (thanks P.!) is quilted. I am finished with it. Mom takes over from here to trim and bind it. She doesn’t like the look of machine binding, so she’s looking at a good 8 to 10 hours of hand sewing.

Do I love the quilting on it? No. Not really. I learned a lot, though:

  • The most important thing I learned was to think about where your needle will go in relation to seams. My “simple” idea turned out to be a pain in the butt and there are a few visible quilting lines where I don’t want them to be seen.
  • I learned (remember, this is the first quilt with this new machine) that just because you CAN wind a bobbin while you’re quilting, doesn’t mean you should. Especially if the bobbin winds unevenly without supervision.
  • I also learned that, if you are winding bobbins when you are not quilting, you MUST remove the bobbin case and unthread the machine at least as far as the little upper-downer thingie. If you do not, you will get a bird’s nest (pun intended) of thread in and around the bobbin area that takes approximately 15 minutes to remove. Each time. You’d think I’d learn after the third one.
  • Finally, I learned that standing so long causes my piriformis muscle (deep inside the hip) to tighten, which leads to compression of the sciatic nerve, which means my outer left thigh is completely numb. Time to go stretch…

Quilts are everywhere

I really must go to bed (it’s after midnight and I have to work tomorrow), but I wanted to quickly share a couple of versions of an EQ7 quilt I just drew up. I can’t take credit for the design – it’s an exact replica of something a friend is building for work – but it was so quilt-like that I asked him to send the design to me so I could transfer it to EQ7. Here’s the original, in just black and white:

Logo B&W

And here are several colorways:

Logo Color 2

Logo Color 4

Logo Quilt 6

Logo Color 3

Logo Color 5

And my favorite (I’m really into these colors lately!):

Logo Color

Funny where you can find quilt designs, isn’t it?