Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A T-shirt Christmas

Amid the multitude of Christmas activities and events in our household the sewing room and dining room table were in T-shirt quilt mode.  And the quilting elf finished with time to spare.  By two days before Christmas the dining room was ready for family gatherings again.

DS had dropped off a tub this fall and sweetly asked if I could make a quilt from his lovely bride's old t-shirts.  Of course!  Then the bomb...queen size please???   (Sigh)  I've made a lap size and a couple twin size, but never tried to wrestle one that big through my machine.  Well, here goes...  It turned out beautifully!

92 inch square t-shirt quilt
(Please ignore where I've digitally covered the blocks with her name to respect her privacy.)
There weren't quite enough shirts, so I added one of my own that was a Parent's shirt from one of their college activities.  It fit right in!  Can you see it?  The gold in the lower left.  A border of 6.5 inch squares cut from the extra t-shirt material helped make it large enough for their bed.  The backing is light gray no-pill fleece.  It should be cozy warm even without batting.

The most adorable shirt was one from her childhood. She was the flower girl for a cousin's wedding. The shirt says "Flower Girl  One step ahead of the bride."  So cute!  (It's the pink flower one near the center.)

A couple new tricks were used this time, and they really worked!
First, I pressed the seams open.  Later, my first stabilizing quilting was to use the walking foot to quilt 1/2 inch on each side of the seams.  The blocks were then mostly quilted with vertical, horizontal or diagonal straight lines using blue masking tape to keep my lines straight.  Super easy.
Second,  I used the Publisher program on my computer to make squares that I could play around with and determine the layout.  This helped me decide how long each of the blocks needed to be to make it all fit.  It was SO much easier than using paper and pen to do the math.  Blocks of all the same width made up a 80-inch row, then the rows went together.  The blocks don't match across and aren't intended to do so.  The borders were added last.  I didn't try to make the border blocks come out perfectly even either.  Just lopped the last block in the border off to fit.
Third, I pieced the fleece backing with a triple zig-zag stitch by just overlapping the two edges.  Nearly invisible!  So glad that worked.

With t-shirts on my mind, and considering they're expecting their first child, a baby T-shirt quilt quickly came together from my stack of Minnesota shirts.  They want a Minnesota theme to the baby's room.  I barely had enough shirts, but it worked.
Minnesota Baby 2016  36x40 inches.  Fleece backing.

And... just when you think you're all  ready to start digging in to finish up some UFO's during a cold Minnesota January....   DD arrives two days before Christmas and asks... "Can you please make us a really heavy and warm denim/flannel quilt?  Um....Queen size?   Here's two bags of old jeans."  Let's see.  Didn't I swear that the lap size one I made a few years ago would be the LAST denim quilt EVER???  That would be the one before I caved in and made the 60x72-inch quilt last May when DS asked for one for his birthday.  I wrote about it here.  Well, ok, just one more.... But why do they keep getting bigger?  LOL  Off we went to JoAnn's to get flannel.  And it was 60% off!

Looks like there's more quilting ahead in the New Year.  Hope your New Year is filled with quilty warmth and cheer!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Redwork Christmas finished!

So excited to finally have this quilt finished!  Five years in the making - it actually qualified as a UFO for most of that time.

It's hard to believe that it was five years ago that I went to the Quilting Expo and came home with my new Elna embroidery machine.  As the holiday season was coming up quickly, I tried downloading a few free embroidery patterns to try out.

A dozen redwork Christmas embroideries ended up in this sweet red and white Twin size quilt top.  Then it languished in the 'completed tops' pile for a long while.

In last year's push to finish up a few UFO's  I decided that a white fleece back would work nicely and pinned them together.  Then it sat another year in the 'to be quilted' pile.  I just couldn't figure out how I wanted to quilt it.

When I finally started quilting it up, there were tension problems with the free motion quilting.  Rip rip rip!  My machine just wouldn't cooperate.  Frustrated, I set it aside again.

It became my UFO goal for this fall, and finally was quilted and the binding put on - all ready to hand stitch in the waiting rooms when I drive my father-in-law to his appointments.  That took two months, but I finished it this week!  Don't you just love reds and whites at Christmas?

Of course, it took me so long to make it that we no longer have a twin size bed in the house.  LOL.

One major Christmas gift to finish piecing and quilt in the next two weeks.  Better get busy and stay focused!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Right Place, Right Time

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were in just the right place at the right time to get the bargain of the century?  I was so proud of myself for sewing more yards of fabric into quilts this year than I had purchased.... until now.

Yep, blew it right out of the water.  Stopped in the thrift store with a donation recently and took a look around while I was there.  This is what came home with me.

More than three tubs of fabric - at least 60 yards.  There were at least two completer kits for queen quilts, but most were fat quarter, half-yard or one-yard pieces of Thimbleberries. How could I resist!  It all averaged under $2 per yard.

I am so grateful to that wonderful quilter who decided she could pass these along!   And if you're looking for a little extra fabric from Thimbleberries quilt club 2004 I might be your gal.

Occasionally I have seen exchanges of small quilts or blocks, but they always want 'quilt shop quality' fabrics.  I've always been a bargain fabric shopper, so never felt that what I have in the stash was 'brand name' good enough.  Now, I have an ample stock to work with!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday update

Time for a update on what's been happening in the sewing room here.

Have you ever made a bed runner?  It's new to me, but at about the same time I stumbled across a panel of four State Park motifs in the 'orphan's box,' I found a book called "Quilts with Unique Borders" from Annie's Quilting.  The Classic Elegance Bed Runner designed by Julie Weaver fit them perfectly!

Here's the progress so far....
There are several narrow plain borders to be added, but I'm liking it so far.  Might be lovely up at the Cabin.  In retrospect, the color placements on the Courthouse Steps should have been uniform rather than the random placement.  Though they are the right colors for the panels, there is too much contrast between the greens and chocolate browns.  Live and learn....

There are several other projects in the works.  The kids dropped off a tub of t-shirts for a quilt.  Hope to get it done by Christmas for them, but it will be close.  There may not be photos because I always worry about privacy issues with that type of quilt.  Their names and the location can be easily deduced from the designs on the shirts.  Just know that it's looking great so far and will be queen size, so that will take some time!

And... I promised myself I was NOT going to do Bonnie Hunter's 'En Provence Mystery Quilt.'  I still have the last one in pieces and unfinished and three in line to be quilted.  Haven't touched 'Allietare' since August.   I plan to save the instructions for now and hope to make a small version next year.

But...I'm starting to cave in. Today I pulled fabrics from my stash and put them together.  I've done so many quilts in her really scrappy style and loved them.  But my scrap bins are getting low.  This time I think I'll try and use up some larger pieces of fabric.   What do you think?  The navy has roses similar to the yellow, but they don't show up well here.