Hack & 16 Patch Quilt

hacks2016-1Hello long lost blog friends! Today’s first hack is how to sew skinny elastic together on a sewing machine. Pin it to a square of fabric, and then you can cut the fabric off when you are done. I figured this out while making baby crib sheets.
My second hack is this. Cut all of your scraps into 2.5″ or 5″ squares for scrappy quilts later. Sort them by color. I started doing this after a friend at quilt guild told us that is what she does, and now that I have a few years of scraps cut, I can throw together 9 or 16 or whatever- patches any time I feel like it.
Isn’t my sewing table cute? My mom’s husband didn’t like it, so they were going to get rid of it. Naturally I had to adopt it.
This is the back of a quilt I made with scrap 2.5″ squares.
I sorted by color, including blacks/ grays, as well as a very colorful section, and a light neutral pile. Then I made blocks that were either complementary colors or close in the color wheel to each other.
For the first time, I read up on a few design rules, and learned that borders on quilts should not be larger than your blocks. I did an inner and outer border. Of all of the quilts I have designed from scratch this might be my favorite. It pays to learn the rules and follow them occasionally, I guess.

Annual Post?

Looks like I am going to be posting annually on this blog for awhile. I would say it is that fourth baby, but really it was the third. Also, reading, summer, photography, and pretty much every other passion in my life take their own chunks of time.

I felt like I was in a quilting funk for awhile this spring. I went to HMQS, and enjoyed Judi Madsen’s fantabulous feathers class, and another great class on borders. I used both classes as I finished the autumn colored quilt below. When I got home, I realized that my funk is because I keep doing other people’s quilts, and I have not been finishing my own projects. I have resolved to finish more of my own things for awhile before I accept any new clients or projects. Still, I have got a lot done, so I will share a few here.

This first quilt is one I am finishing because a friend in quilt guild passed away. It is from the Y2K, and it involved an amazing block exchange from around the world. I felt so grateful her family allowed some of us to finish things. I knew this would be a good way for me to work through my grief. I just quilted it, and I will soon be binding it. Then my guild will donate it to a local charity of some sort.


Aren’t these blocks from around the world delightful? I wish there were some way to contact the people who made them and let them know where one of their blocks ended up.

IMG_9276This following quilt has been a dream for me. One of my quilting mentors has a talented daughter, and I shop her amazing nursery regularly to adopt plants for my garden. She pieced and embroidered this beautiful quilt and allowed me to do the quilting.
Ali Reynolds Autumn Oak02

Ali Reynolds Autumn Oak08 Ali Reynolds Autumn Oak12I learned the triangle detail above at my borders and fill class at HMQS. I love it!
Ali Reynolds Autumn Oak14Pay no attention to the poor orange bunny face down in the corner of the picture above.

This last small baby quilt is for a good friend. I made it for her because she had a little girl this spring, and it helped me practice feathers and acorn leaves for the autumn one above. It has the distinction of being the only thing of my own I have finished in a long time. Time to change that trend!

Show and Tell

In 2013 I worked on a great many quilts, but did not finish any sewing project except that peach dress.

However, this year has been completely different. I have finished four quilts that were all in process last year in the last two months. Here are a couple.Susannah Feb 2014 7This is the back of one I finished for my sister, Susannah. She had a baby last summer, and I usually make one for each new-mom-sister of mine. It just took longer than usual for that one to get done.Susannah Feb 2014 9This is the binding, which I thought very cute, and below you can see the top. I just stitched together a layer cake, and quilted each block with a different free motion pattern.
Susannah Feb 2014 1The pictures below are of the heaviest quilt I have ever made, and the first one I finished on my insane Christmas present (a long arm machine, which my husband explained by saying “We’ve been married almost ten years, and this quilting thing does not seem to be going away.”)

This quilt is a t-shirt / memory quilt my brother asked me to make. It was a major headache in some ways. I had to iron interfacing to the backs of all of the stretchy t-shirts. After extensive fruitless internet searching about what interfacing to use in a t-shirt quilt, I just used the cheapest non-stretch stuff they had at JoAnn. It worked great.

The only problem I had was initially my cruddy iron. It was small, broken, and given to me as a wedding gift. Or maybe I bought it at  a thrift store in college? I can’t remember. After much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth on the first part of the project, I bought the cheapest iron at Costco to replace it. The new iron has a significantly larger footprint, magnificent steam power, and it made the rest of the backing process not nearly so dreadful. Also, my husband’s shirts actually look pressed after I iron them now. Bonus.

I backed, and bound the quilt with cotton fabric. Gray business in the front, bright striped party in the back. Jesse Tshirt Memory quilt-8This is the final product. It contains t-shirts from his high school and college days and travels, parts of his white shirts, suits and ties from missionary service, and even part of the back of his college graduation gown. Notice my attractive model’s strained neck? I was not kidding. It is a heavy quilt. Jesse Tshirt Memory quilt-2I warned him it might be five years or so before I got it done, but I had his name in the sibling exchange on both sides of my family for Christmas, so he got a rush job. I am glad, because that was a large heap of shirts and memorabilia to store in my sewing room. I am also glad because I love my brother, and it gave me joy to do this for him.

I have finished a couple more items, too, but I need to photograph them with a better camera than my phone before I post.

Hack: Ripping Strips

Apparently I have not posted since before I conceived the little nugget I shall be delivering sometime at the end of April or beginning of May. So, I am pleased to announce that my fourth reason to make a baby quilt will be arriving in approximately 7 to 9 weeks.

In other news, I have finished several quilts since January, and in finishing these things, my attention has been drawn to borders of quilts. They take a lot longer than I think they will to finish, every time.

This is a hack I learned from my quilt guild ladies, and let me tell you, they do not lie. If you need to cut a very long piece for borders, you should rip it instead of cut it. The photo below is of a strip of fabric 80+ inches long. I had it left over from the quilt for my dad, and decided to use it for my baby’s quilt’s border. I snipped at 3 inches on one end, and voila.

rip it goodMore than eighty inches away, and it was still a tight 3″ width of fabric. My main notes on this technique are:

1. Rip aggressively and quickly. The more slowly you do it, the more time there is to stretch the edges of your fabric.

2. Ripping works parallel to or perpendicular (90 degrees) to the edge of your fabric.

3. There may be about a 1/4 of an inch next to the edge that looks a little pulled, but that will be inside of your seam, and if you are very worried by it, iron it, and it will smooth out nicely.

On a non-ripping note, make sure you measure the edge of your quilt, and then measure the borders. Mark the centers, and pin them. This prevents you from having the border or quilt stretch if the top or bottom of your machine feeds faster or slower. That stretching can make the quilt lie funny or be harder to quilt later.

I will be back soon to post my show and tells that I have finished!

One Darn Thing

dressI was feeling sorry for myself that I had not finished a darn thing all year, and then I remembered: I finished this peach dress! My brother Jesse got married in July, and I made that dress out of rayon. It breathed very nicely, and I loved the drape of it, but my baby son fell asleep in my arms and sweated all over it and wrinkled it almost to death later in the evening. I still love the dress. It is so nice to have an article of clothing that fits exactly the way you want it to, because you made it that way!

So I can’t say I haven’t finished a darn thing all year. I have. One darn thing.

PS, is my new sister in law not the most gorgeous creature? I am very fond of her.