Friday, March 26, 2010

First Block For Ruthie's Quilt

Well, I was very successful in my endeavor to turn hexagons into a quilt block without having to do half hexagons, and it came out super well I think!

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against half hexagons.  They appear to be super easy to quilt with; however because I didn't want to break up the hexagon pieces, especially of the hedgies, I kept them in one solid piece, which made it slightly more difficult to sew.  From start to finish -not including ironing, embroidering the hedgies or washing- it took me about... 2-4 hours.  I wasn't strictly keeping track and quite honestly I had a TON of interruptions.  But I'm REALLY happy with the end result!  The trick of these were to trace the 1.5 hexagons with the water erasable marker, and then cut them with a 1/4" seam allowance.  and then only machine sew on the traced lines.  I should have taken a picture/do a tutorial of this... maybe I will with the next hexagon block I do!  This quilt is going to feature a bunch of them.  Placement is very very important, and constantly checking to make sure if your fabric's pattern is going the correct way is as well -if you care- as well as ironing the seams is integral as well.  I discovered for hexagons, you HAVE to sew the seams open!

To be honest, I was mostly winging this.  I started out by laying out the fabric on my cutting mat to get an idea of how I wanted to do the blocks.  The key to working with hexagons is that you do a 'flower' and then just work around that. start in the center and work your way out basically!

Here's the completed -but not squared- block.  There was no real rhyme or reason to how I laid out the hexes -with the exception of the gray and white blocks, I put them in the corners on purpose- except that I followed the rule of threes.  Basically I did not let more than three of the same fabric touch each other at once.  Granted, I didn't completely follow this rule since there's only two periwinkle hexes along with only two embroidered hedgehogs, but I think it still creates an interesting looking block, because somehow it works.  Or that's what I'm telling myself anyways, I'd be interested to know your opinions.

And of course, here's the squared off block!  It measures 10.5 inches wide by 13.25 inches tall.  There was a few issues with puckering in the corners where the hexagons meet, but other than that it lays pretty flat.  Ruthie got pretty excited when Jeff showed it to her, and explained that it's going on a blanket for her -it's sitting on my bin of fabric ontop of the ironing board- and she got grumpy when he told her she can't touch it.  Then she tried to sneak over with a step stool to pull it down.. I think it's gonna have to go into my bin before she tries THAT again.
Here is a closeup of the hedgehogs.  I angled it since it's easier to see the detailing of the girl hedgies and beacuse it's an artistic photograph.  I did the girl's hairbow, eye and nose in DMC #327, and there's an H instead of an R in her heart.. I figured including first and last initials would really personalize it for her.  All I did was just trace the hedgie in the water soluble  marker for the girl hedgie, and because it kind of bled through I was able to follow the outline pretty easily.  Her hairbow was done using the lazy daisy stitch/detached chain stitch; the tutorial found here -by the same lovely lady who did the french knot tutorial I used and showed you in my last post-

I'm really excited about finishing this quilt.  I will be showing my progress; however it may be interupted since we're taking a road trip after easter and I won't be taking my juki with me which makes me sad, because I've got a foot for my machine that has a foot with a build in bumper for 1/4 seam allowances.  Oh well!  I'll be taking my babylock, but I most likely will NOT be sewing anything for this quilt with it.. I've learned when you use two different machines for one project, it's very obvious.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Latest Quilting Project from Start to Finish

Like most awesomely cool things that turn out well, it started with an idea.  I recently found this fantastic blog called Film in the Fridge, which features -among others- a really nifty tutorial on string quilt blocks.  I'm not entirely sure what or why it's called a string quilt, but I like the end result!  Ashley's got a ton of super awesome talent with quilting, and is quite inspirational with her work.  In addition, I was also inspired by her baby birds and butterfly quilt.  It's done in log cabin blocks, but instead of following traditional log cabin-ing work, she defied tradition and went for a more whimsical wonky look for her log cabin squares.  And so a quilt was conceived.

I designed a quilt that will be alternating string blocks with a wonky log cabin block for Ruthie.  I found some great fabrics to come together, and I'm in the process of acquiring the fabrics.  However, I have picked out the fabrics online.  The top two are from Amy Butler's Lotus line of fabric; the left one is Wall Flower in Cherry, and the one on the right is also Wall Flower in Sky.  The browns aren't done by the same designer; the one on the left is Michael Miller is called Etta and is in the toffee color.  The brown on the right is Riley Blake and is from the All Star line, and is Firecracker in brown.  The next two fabrics are from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane line; the left one is in pocket book tangerine, and the other one is in pocketbook green.  The next two are probably my most favorite fabrics that are going into this quilt.  They are from his Hedgehog Group line, and the left is Hedgehog Heaven in aqua, and the right one is in gold.  The last two are also Riley Blake and I believe they are from the all star line as well, but I'm not entirely sure.  But it's tone on tone orange circles, and tone on tone red circles.  In addition, I'm also planning on adding a solid fabric, however, due to the fact that I don't have ALL of the fabrics yet the solid is still undecided.  I was thinking of a green of some type and plan on getting it in a Kona cotton; but I want to wait until I've got all of my fabrics.

Quilt Top
Quilt Back

Since I'm planning for the quilt to be a good quality one and hopefully last Ruthie a very long time, I figured it would be an excellent idea to do a test run of some sorts.  After drawing out and coloring the design in my sketchbook, I went ahead and cut out the fabrics and sewed the blocks together.  What was nice about doing this, I was able to figure out exactly what size strips I would need for the quilt, and was able to make notations in my sketchbook.  That way, when I do the final product, I know my measurements and I won't be guessing.  Well, once they were done, I went and grabbed some polyfill batting I bought ages ago for some other projects that never got done.  I actually discovered that it's much easier to use 100% cotton batting, such as Warm N Natural or other stuff, and I do not plan on using polyfill for a serious project ever again.  It is ideal for practice projects like this, so I will keep it until I've used it all.  I realize that the strings are not perfectly lined up; Which is okay considering this is like I said; a practice piece.  I think the reason why they didn't line up is because when I drew my line on my paper squares, they were not perfectly corner to corner.  Of course, when it comes to doing Ruthie's project I will be making sure that they are lined up properly.  After using curved safety pins and quilting it, I trimmed the batting down, and cut the strips for the binding.  Thanks to my friend Nay of Nay's Needlebook, I was able to do -mostly- mitered corners following the directions on this tutorial.  Granted, I didn't do all the prewashing and that jazz, but I followed the directions for the french binding with mitered corners.  If it's done right, it comes out beautifully.  For those that are curious, I used my Babylock Xscape for the piecing, and I used my used new Juki, model number TL-98 Q to do the quilting.   I had a lot of fun using my juki for this project, since it was the first time I used it.  Seriously, it makes quilting MUCH easier, and while there was a bit of a learning curve with figuring out how to thread the machine, and winding a bobbin, one I figured it out, it was smooth sailing sewing!
Closeup of quilting.

The Juki in action!
And of course, here's the end result:
The front completed and bound.

The back completed and bound.
I suppose I could have taken it outside to get better pictures, but It's been kind of snowy and wet outside, so I didn't really want to.  I really did have a lot of fun with working on this and I can't wait to get started on Ruthie's quilt!