Blogger’s Quilt Festival

31 10 2012
Amy's Creative Side

CotFW, Part Deux  - From EQ to Quilt

Cheating on the Farmer’s Wife, Part Deux
Finished quilt measures : 72″ X 72″
Designed, Pieced and
Quilted by: Grey Cat Quilts
Best Category : Scrap Quilt

I’d been working on the Farmer’s Wife Sampler for almost a year, when I felt the need to take another break from it. So I did, and I started work on a project I called ‘Fun with Free Piecing’ for a little while. I just wanted a break from the very precise work I’d been doing with the Farmer’s Wife.

I had a spark of inspiration when looking over my scrap baskets, and decided to use some of them in an a series of free piecing sessions. I set about using snippets of things that had ended up in my scrap basket, grimacing at some fabrics, smiling at the memories produced by others.

So I sewed, snipped and trimmed, eventually realizing that I was sewing scrappy little bars of free piecing goodness that measured 2.5″ X 6.5″. The challenge then came in using what I had on hand to make a full top. I quickly decided to set the bars into a square of Kona Charcoal – it’s hands down my favorite Kona solid when in color doubt, as it has a lovely warm undertone to it that makes color positively dance against it.

Fun with Free Piecing

Then I turned to another favorite, EQ7, and set about playing with the blocks, trying to decide on a layout. I very quickly decided on alternating the orientation of the blocks, but felt that it was very ‘blah’ without a border. Thanks to EQ7, I was able to decide on a board fairly quickly, so I went into another frenzy of scrap piecing, producing the border blocks over the course of two or three days.

I went from the germ of an idea to a finished top in two weeks, practically a miracle for me. I think my poor sewing machine was smoking at the end of it! Then, of course, came the question of how to quilt it. I knew immediately that I wanted to use multiple colors of thread on the top. I digitally auditioned three possibilities, before figuring out just what I wanted:

FwFP Quilting Plan 1

That settled, I spent about twenty-four hours quilting the top on my domestic machine, after piecing together a backing out of what I had on hand. Two weeks later, I had a completed quilt!

Cheating on the Farmer's Wife, Part Deux

CotFW, Part Deux - Backing

I changed my quilting plan a little, after I’d done all those blasted rectangles… I quilted diamonds around the edges. I also experimented, and used two shades of gray and black in my bobbin as I quilted. It’s a decision that I’m extremely happy with, as the three different neutrals help give movement to the backing.

I love cuddling up in this quilt. I think my only regret is that I didn’t make it bigger – Right now, it’s a generous lap quilt. I’d be much happier if this was big enough for my queen-sized bed. Still, it’s in daily use, which is even better. I’m thrilled to have some quilts on hand to curl up on the couch with.


Unfettered Productivity

12 08 2012

I’ve been in a highly creative phase lately, which has led to an unprecedented level of quilt-y output for me.

I completed quilting and binding of Cheating on the Farmer’s Wife, Part Deux in the middle of last week, but i wanted to save posting about it until after I’d buried all the threads and washed it. There were so many threads hanging out that it took me until Friday morning to complete that. So then I decided to wait until after Stitch ‘N’ Bitch. I only need to take care of labeling the quilt, and I can call it totally finished!

CotFW, Part Deux measures in at 72″ X 72″, and uses Warm & Natural batting, as all of my quilts do. The quilting is done in several different colors  of thread, while the bobbin thread was one of two shades of gray or black thread.

Cheating on the Farmer's Wife, Part Deux

CotFW, Part Deux - Backing

I love, love, love the backing! I had mentally questioned the decision to go with the three neutrals in the bobbin, but I’m thrilled that I went with my instinct. I love the soft geometry of the backing, and how the  quilting pops against the fabrics used in it.

Setting the Farmer's Wife

I’ve started setting my Farmer’s Wife blocks. While I’ve loved the EQ7 illustration I’ve been looking at for several months, I’ve been slightly nervous about seeing it all in fabrics. Having gotten a start on it, my fears are allayed!

Unfortunately, due to trusting  EQ7’s cutting instructions and pre-cutting everything I needed for this top, I actually need to order more of everything. Honestly, this is my own damned fault. I looked at the instructions, which told me to start with 4 7/8″ squares for the setting triangles, and had the initial thought that I should cut my squares larger, at 6″ square, so that I could trim down and square up. Instead, I let my instinct be overridden by my trust in EQ7, and cut 5″ blocks. This resulted in my blocks coming in almost a quarter inch too small.

Anyone know of an online vendor that will allow me to order just an FQ or quarter yard of Kona solids? I only need two 6″ squares of several colors, but might have re-order a full half-yard of everything if I can’t find a shop that allows smaller cuts.

A Start

24 07 2012

I’ve started quilting Fun with Free Piecing. I just couldn’t resist! I know I have a older projects that need to be quilted up, but it’s what I want to do right this very minute. Which is just silly, because I have the backing picked out for my Basket BOM top. I have a Flying Geese top that needs some unpicking, and then the quilting can be started again. I have a string pieced table runner that should really be done next, with the scraps of batting I have…

The list could probably go on, but I honestly haven’t looked through my finished tops in a while. I want to drag them all out and photograph them for the blog, but that involves waiting until I can spend a chunk of time at the park, since I want to borrow the fencing out there.

Anyhoot… Enough castigating myself for setting stuff aside. At least they’re in the completed tops pile!

Quilting Started

I started quilting two nights ago. It’s going fairly quickly… I have half of two rows done. So far, I’m liking it. My lines aren’t perfectly straight, but I refuse to stress myself over it. I know that once I’m done, I won’t even see the slight wave to some of these quilted lines. I’m alternating my top thread between a dozen or so colors, and am resisting the urge to buy more from Connecting Threads. I love their threads and the way they finish.

After getting through a few of these, I took a look at the quilted portions of the top, and decided that I need to stitch in the ditch around the scrappy blocks. They needed just a touch more definition. To keep things from being less messy, I’m stopping every so often and burying my threads. Zeb’s been wanting to be involved, so I’m letting him help trim the threads.

With luck, I’ll have this quilted up by the end of the week, and I can spend my vacation doing the binding and putting my Farmer’s Wife blocks into a top. Of course, that’s around all the cleaning and organizing I want to do…

Prepping for Quilting

22 07 2012

I took some time off second job today, and visited second job’s main location, just so that I could pin Fun with Free Piecing. My knees won’t allow me to crawl around on a floor, even if I had enough floor space. At second job, I can push three of the gaming tables together and go to town! I’m on a roll with this quit, and determined to keep going while I have my momentum.

FwFP Backing, Stretched

I love the colors in this backing more and more! I tried painter’s tape for the first time today – last time I did this, it was normal packing tape. I like the strength of the packing tape, but the lack of crazy sticking with the painter’s tape was awesome.

All Set to Pin
In layering this together, I discovered that my back is pretty much exactly two inches bigger on all sides than the top, which is perfect. Pretty good for not having a formal  plan for the backing and doing all the adding in my head.

PwFP Pinned

I’m a little concerned about how the quilting will look on the back, but have determined that everything in the bobbins will be gray or black. All of the colors will be on the front of the quilt.

I’m at home now, and even though it’s getting on toward midnight, I’ve started drawing my quilting lines. I’m going to start tonight, and see how I like my quilting plan.

Baby Got Back!

22 07 2012

I have a backing for Fun with Free Piecing!

Fun With Free Piecing, Backing

Pieced over about three hours – most of that time measuring and debating those measurements.

I started with two yards each of the solid red and berry prints, stolen from fabrics purchased for the germ of an idea that will never see fruition. It wasn’t quite enough to complete the backing, so I dug through my secret stash of large scale prints that I love but fear cutting into.

I came across a 2009 fabric from Alexander Henry, ‘dagmar’. That’s the floral in the photo and I love it. LOVE. IT. However, I only had one yard of it, so I’d never planned a quilt with it. I should have purchased more…


Ah, well. Done is done.

I originally thought I’d do four panels of dagmar in different sizes, but I didn’t want to do that much quilty math and piecing. So I simplified the plan down, and started cutting and sewing straight seams, based on how much fabric I had. I framed the central panel on two sides with a Jay McCarroll Habitat print – JY34 Peach, which is a baby-soft polka dot totally at odds with the rest of that line. The other side is a smokey blue solid from my stash that matches perfectly. I recovered almost a yard of a mustard calico from the scrap buckets and decided to fill out the central panel with that, because I love mustard.

Once the central panel was done, and the two red panels were done, I made the  decision to not center the strips running down the middle. It would have been extremely fiddly, and I wasn’t feeling fiddly. Plus, this backing probably won’t end up perfectly centered anyway. I also like the personality it gives.

I’m extremely happy with how this turned out. This might be another case in which I end up liking the backing far more than the front… We’ll see how I feel when this is all quilted.

A Completed Quilt Top

20 07 2012

I’ve been sewing like a woman possessed.

I make no apologies, except to my lower back.

Regardless, I persevered and thirteen days after first posting about my free-piecing efforts, I have a completed quilt top.

I think I might have broken land speed records. I’m pretty sure Bessie is smoking. Poor machine needs a good cleaning after this.

Fun with Free Piecing Top Completed

The quilt top measures 72″ x 72″. There are eighy-one 8″ square blocks. I burned through twenty-four loaded bobbins. There are about 4.25 yards of Kona Coal there, along with an indeterminate yardage of various scraps. This is definitely not a scrap buster by any means, however. I estimate that that there’s less than a yard of prints in this top.

Now I just need to figure out the backing. I wonder what I have a lot of that I don’t particularly care to cut up into smaller bits… Oooo… I bought some solid yardages for an Asian-inspired project that’s just never going to happen. Perfect!

I could be quilting this beast this weekend! I think I might even have the perfect fabric for binding this.

Process Post: Quilting Decisions

16 07 2012

As Fun with Free Piecing comes closer to a completed quilt top (far faster than I would have thought possible!), I found myself considering how to quilt it. My original idea, was to do off-set straight line quilting:

FwFP Quilting Plan 3

This particular idea was scrapped very early in the drawing stage, as you can see, though I saved it for reference. I didn’t like the idea of quilting through all of the seams in the free-pieced sections. Early on in the process, I decided, though that I wanted to use multiple colors of thread, to stand out against the gray.

FwFP Quilting Plan 2

Here, I forgot to change the thickness of the lines I was drawing, which might have had something to do with my dismissal of this particular quilting plan. I initially thought that the  random straight lines could be fun, especially if done in multiple colors of thread. I rather liked the idea of echoing the free-piecing in the quilting. Then I drew it out, rather than test it on the sandwich itself. No love here.

FwFP Quilting Plan 1

Finally, I thought to try echoing the rectangle shape, creating a brick and mortar illusion, thanks to a co-worker’s suggestion. Again, I went with multiple colors of thread, because I was still loving that idea. This, I think is a winner!

I love the depth this gives the design. Having said this, I think I’m going to change the quilting in the outer gray border and in the two long horizontal segments that currently show straight line quilting. I might do those in shorter quilting lines that are perpendicular to their alignment, or the idea of an echoed zig-zag in those areas appeals too.

I’m going to add a page to this blog, dedicated to contrasting the digital design to the physical quilt that comes out of the process. It’ll be picture heavy, but I think it’ll be a lot of fun. Plus, it’ll be a more condensed way of showing some of my process, when my process actually involves planning to this degree. Of course, this page won’t go up until such time as I actually COMPLETE a quilt, down to the binding, from a digital design.

EDIT: Anyone want a tutorial for this quilt? I’m debating writing one up.

Fabric On Its Way…

13 07 2012

Hopefully anyway!

Kona Order

I ordered the fabric for setting my Farmer’s Wife blocks. So excited to get this stuff in and play with it! I decided on Kona solids, since every block uses prints. I also wanted to go with a range of colors…

Farmer's Wife Plan

Yup, the EQ7 illustration above is the plan for the Farmer’s Wife blocks,  courtesy of Sandi at Piecemeal Quilts. More gray, because I’m kind of obsessed right now. Gray is eating my brain. Ignore the fact that those aren’t the FWS blocks – I was too lazy to re-draw them or look them up, especially since I was mostly concerned with just the setting at the moment.

I’m digging this – I really just want to get started!

More Fun with Free Piecing

11 07 2012

Fun with Free Piecing

I couldn’t stop. I’m going to have to follow this project through to a completed quilt top. Thankfully, I can zoom through four or five of the scrappy centers in an evening. I drew up the completed project in EQ7, so that I  could figure out how much background fabric I’d need, since I only bought  two yards, and my intention had been to quit when I ran out. EQ7 tells me I’ll need 4.25 yards… I’ll have to see how many patches I’m getting out of each fabic strip and see if that’s correct.

I’m finding myself fascinated by how one scrappy block will inform the next, as I pull larger scraps from the baskets and create little fabric mosaics that are further sliced and diced as I add to a 2.5″ wide stripe.  Scraps, of course, are not being used as quickly as I would like, but it’s nice to start using these bits and pieces of fabric that I haven’t had the heart to throw away.