Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quilt of Valor 2013

Here is another Quilt of Valor I made this year.  Some of my quilting buddies and I found a Mystery Quilt pattern in a quilting magazine, and we all decided we'd make the quilt in reds, whites, and blues to be valor quilts.  I don't make pieced quilts from patterns very often, and this was interesting for me to do.  Especially interesting because I had no idea what the final quilt would look like!

And when I did finish it, I was really surprised at the secondary designs which appeared.  In the photo above, try to look at it as a series of independent rows.  For example, the striped blocks were simply large blocks with corners added to them.  But when the other rows are added to it, a more star-like pattern emerges.  

Then the quilting started.  I chose to do different free motion designs in different areas of the quilt.  In the blue borders I did really big spirals, all down the row.

And each of the small squares received a leaf design,with a curving "vine" connecting all of them.

In the large striped blocks I did a large starburst(?).  Not quite sure what to call it.  It was actually quite easy and fun to do.  I marked the center of the square.  Then I started at the outside edge and made a curvy line into that center spot.  After that I simply swirled back out to the edge, more or less following the same curve as the first line, travelled a little bit in the seam, and made another curvy line back to the center.

I really like how it looks.  This was a design I found in one of Leah Day's books.

And when I got to the very end of the quilting, I had exactly this much thread left on the bobbin!  Good timing, don't you think?

I found a nice piece of patriotic fabric on sale (whoopee!!) and pieced it with some red pieces for the back.

As part of the piecing process, I was left with a lot of half-square triangles, which had been trimmed off one of the blocks.  We quilters do like to save things, don't we!  And after all, these were perfectly good HST's, all cut and sewn and ready to be used.

So I sewed twelve of them together into a strip like this.

And I used them to embellish the pillow case which goes along with each quilt as a presentation bag.  
Now, I still have quite a few of those pieces left, and no, I haven't thrown them away yet!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Scary Ghost Story

Booo!  Here is a scary ghost that I made yesterday.  It was very easy, and I'm going to tell you how to do it, if you don't already know.

The key ingredients are 

1.  cheesecloth

2. Stiffy fabric stiffener

3.  a form around which to fashion a ghost (I used a water bottle)

4.  plastic wrap

Thanks to Marva at my local quilt shop, I made this simple ghost.  She gave me my directions. I used a water bottle for the basic form.  I then made a "ball" out of tin foil for the head, but you can use anything round-ish.  I started with a small sea urchin shell, but it kept falling off the water bottle!

Cut an approximate square out of the cheesecloth.  It should be big enough to fall over the bottle/form and drape nicely around at the base.  I tried my best to keep the tin foil ball from falling off the  bottle top.  Marva told me that I should cover the whole thing (underneath the gauze/cheesecloth) with plastic kitchen wrap to keep the fabric from sticking to the base/form.  Following the bottle directions,  get all of the cheesecloth wet with the Stiffy fabric stiffener.  (I bought my Stiffy at a fabric store.  It cost me $8.99 for 8 ounces several years ago.  I still have a little over half of the bottle left.)

Here is the fun part.  Drape the damp cheesecloth over the form.  Make sure that the bottom "skirt-like" part is draped around nicely.  I did this on top of my washing machine.  I suppose any counter  top would work fine.  Get all the folds evenly spread out at the base of the ghost.  

Now you are going to have to spend some time doing something else fun while this dries.  Go sew on another project.  Take a walk.  Clean out a drawer.  (No, that's not what I did!)  Have a glass of wine.  (Closer to what I did. . .)  It will take an hour or more. 

When it is all dry and stiff, carefully peel the bottom part off the counter top, then gently pull the base (water bottle) plus the plastic wrap away from the cheesecloth.  You will be left with a graceful, draping shape.

Now all you have to do is add eyes.  I simply cut two small circles from black felt.  Googly eyes would work well, too, I think, and I'm sure there are other possibilities.

Now you have a nice ghost shape.  Here you can see it sitting atop a cute Halloween table-topper that SisterStitches made for me.

Happy Halloween!
(and may all your leftover Halloween candy be your favorite kind!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maybe My Fastest Quilt Ever?!

I think this might just be the fastest quilt I've ever made!


On a Friday I was given a bag full of pre-cut squares.  They were about 4 1/2" square.  And I was told to make a quilt to sell at our annual Festival of the Trees at Gualala Arts Center.  Every year our quilt guild has a booth there and raises a lot of money for the Art Center and for us.

So I separated lights and darks into two stacks.  Then I proceeded to make them into 9-patches.  I always put the dark patches on the outside, as that pile was higher than the pile of light patches.

All of the nine-patches got sewn together, then basted with batting and backing.

I used a large-ish overall stippling to quilt this, and now I think I can really, honestly say that stippling is one of my least favorite designs to quilt.  I used to think that was just my opinion because I couldn't do it very well.  But this one came out pretty good.  I just--plain and simple--don't like sewing this type of design!

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  The nine-patches don't show up a lot, but they are there, and give it just a slight bit of order.

For the backing I chose a light pink/green/blue stripe.  This quilt turned out to be just a tiny bit wider than 44", and this particular piece of fabric was a little wider, too.  So no piecing!

I even had one 9-patch left over so I used it as the label on the back.

And I couldn't possibly do anything but a scrappy binding on this scrap quilt!  We quilters are often hoarders, aren't we.  I have a collection of leftover bits of binding.  Whenever I had a piece left over after binding a quilt, I would throw it in a bag.  So I sewed several of them together to bind this quilt.  I knew I was saving them for a reason!

So after receiving the blocks on Friday, this nice lap-size quilt was finished the following Wednesday.  I'm sure that's a record for me!