Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tis that Time

I feel like my summer has flown by. If I wasn't attending a wedding, I was thinking about what to wear to one, buying clothes for the many showers and parties, sorting through gift registries, painting nails, doing hair, traveling or taking pictures.
My husband's sister was married this weekend and it was a flury of relatives, friends, events and excitement. I am happy to say the wedding was absolutely gorgeous and everyone had a great time.
I am however sad to say I have done VERY little quilting. I found it difficult to devote even a moment to my fabulous fabric addiction with all the cleaning and entertaining I have been doing recently. To top it all off I am happy to report I quit my job last week and I will be starting my new job in a few weeks time. I am very excited about this, it was a much needed change.
Needless to say, it has been a hectic month for sure!

And since I will be leaving for vacation tomorrow and will not return until after labor day, I figured I would leave you with at least a little something quilting related.

Above is my attempt at sewing together one of my WIPs. Pepe always enjoys helping me quilt, she is always ready to lend a hand in anything and is very eager to assist when comfy strips need wrinkling. She will always find the most inconvenient place to sleep, and therein lies one of the many reasons why I love her!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Basting Tutorial

One of the most important and labor intensive steps in creating a quilt is the basting process. Although your quilting could very well not turn out perfect regardless, without a properly basted quilt, it definitely will not be what you had hoped for.

Basting is the process of aligning the top, bottom and middle (batting) of a quilt together so the quilt can be "quilted". (This entire process can be ignored if you will be sending your quilt to a long-arm quilter - lucky you!)

The first step in basting is to select the appropriate materials:

1. Quilt Top - All seams should be ironed to one side or open. The quilt top should be square and should be even enough to lay flat.

2. Quilt Back - If your Quilt Back is pieced (i.e. not a solid piece of fabric) you should iron your seams as you did with the quilt top and consider marking the center of each side of the quilt back and front with a pin. This will allow you to match up the top and bottom and ensure the piecing doesn't turn out crooked. If this is your first time basting, this technique might also help you put the quilt together straight. Your Quilt Back should be about 2 to 4 inches bigger on each side than the Quilt Front.

3. Quilt Middle (Batting) - As I use only 100% cotton fabrics in my quilts I also prefer to use 100% cotton batting. My batting of choice is Warm and White. When I first started quilting I used a polyester fill which I later found out was better suited for hand quilting. Although the quilts I made turned out just fine, there were puckers in the back and it was absolutely more difficult to work with. Your batting should be about the same size as your Quilt Back, maybe slightly smaller so you can see all of the layers when they are stacked in the quilt sandwich.

4. Basting Pins - Although average safety pins will work just fine, they make special curved pins especially for basting and boy do they work! Depending on the size of the quilt anywhere from 200-300 safety pins should suffice.
5. Crochet Needle or similar instrument - This is used to close the safety pins. Laugh now, but after 200 or so pins your fingers will become quite sore and you will wish you had listened.
6. Packing Tape - To hold the Quilt Back securely in place some people use masking, duct, electrical or painters tape. Use what you are most comfortable with or what you have on hand.
7. A spot to baste on (tile, linoleum, cement, hard surface) - Ideally this space should be large enough for the entire quilt. Basting half a quilt at a time is not only difficult but could also lead to inaccuracies or a mismatched Quilt Back. Be careful if you're working on a linoleum floor as the pins could dig into the floor. I don't mention wood in my list of approved surfaces because I just wouldn't want to put pin holes in your expensive wood floor. As I progress I find I don't hit the floor very often. As a beginner, I really scraped to get through the three layers. I suggest tile if available.
And we begin:

Lay out your Quilt Back on the floor good side facing down. Pulling the Quilt Back tight but not stretching the fabric tape down the corners. I typically will put 1-3 pieces of tape on the sides of the quilt as well so it lays perfectly flat.
Next, lay the batting on top of the Quilt Back. Smooth out any ripples starting in the center moving towards the outside edges. This is my favorite thing about cotton batting, it will lay perfectly smooth.
Next center you Quilt Top on top of the batting good side facing up. Match up the center pins now if you used them. Smooth out any ripples again starting with the center of the quilt moving to the outside.
As you will notice my batting is not as large as my Quilt Back and is barely as large as my Quilt Top. Do as I say, not as I do! This was leftover batting and it just happened to be the right size, just barely!

If you used any light colored fabric in your quilt, then now would be the time to make sure you can't see any loose dark threads through the light fabric. If you can, lift up that portion of the Quilt Top and remove it. Once you baste the quilt it becomes more difficult.
Next I start on one corner of the quilt and make my way around the quilt. I put a safety pin about every 4" making sure to go through all three layers of the quilt sandwich. I stagger the pins to create more coverage. Remember to keep in mind the type of quilting you will be doing. If you will be quilting near the seams put the pins in the center of the blocks. The more pins, the more stable your quilt sandwich, too many pins and you may have a difficult time finding a free spot to quilt.
In addition, I always put pins around the outside of the quilt, you don't want the excess fabric getting in the way.
Once complete, stand back and admire your handiwork. You might even consider a back massage or hot bath, this is far more work than it appears. Once fully rested, rip up that tape and begin quilting!

Monday, August 16, 2010


This might be one of my favorite quilts ever! I love the colors, fabrics, pattern, quilting and sashing. I love it all!
This quilt measures 45" x 58" a good size for a crib. I used a fairly large stipple therefore the quilting took no time at all. I went with a scrappy binding, solid back and random front block placement. For the first time ever I feel that the blocks are truly random, and it feels GREAT!

My little helpers definitely chipped in where appropriate! Pepe made sure to get right in the way while I was quilting...
And binding...

And Daisy helped out too!
I think they both get very jealous of the amount of time I spend quilting. The entire time I am making one Daisy runs around trying to lay on it (at least she has the right idea).

I will be sending this quilt off to its owner (an unborn baby boy) and I will miss it dearly. I have given a lot of thought into making myself a larger version! I really LOVE it so much and I'm sure they will too!

Sometimes I feel as though every time I make a quilt I have to learn how to stipple, baste and bind all over again. It would be great if I had a reference somewhere I could quickly look to when I got confused (which happens pretty often). In addition, I have a lot of family and friends that read my blog with little quilting knowledge.

So I've decided that over the next week I'm going to attempt to explain the basting and binding process and possibly create some nice tutorials along the way.
Aside from being a good reference point for me this will also solve a lot of those "how do you make a quilt questions?" So as I finished this quilt I stopped to consider "how" I was finishing it.
I was lucky enough to have someone teach me some of these techniques first hand, other bits I learned from reading blogs and looking through books. So my hope is that my tutorials can help someone else learn to quilt and along the way teach them the many joys of my favorite crafting project.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do You Knit?

We will take a break from the quilting blogosphere to talk briefly about knitting.

I have found most quilters dabble with their ability to knit or crochet. A lot of quilters originally tested the crafting waters with knitting or crocheting as they were too young to use or own a sewing machine.

Although I find quilting to be far more fun, and faster too; I decided to devote a little part of my world to the great knitters in my life.
One of the most talented knitters I have ever met is my husband's grandmother. She creates absolutely amazing pieces of art! This is an afghan she made us for Christmas a few years ago by special request.
And here is one she made for my husband as a child.
I have quite a few afghans lying around the house from various family members. I have one made by my Aunt:
One from my Great-Aunt:
And another from my Uncle:
So I thought I would give it a try myself. I've been knitting scarves for quite some time, simple knits and pearls, nothing fancy.
I created this scarf using a ladder as my muse:
From there I inspired myself to create my first afghan using the same technique. It has a checkered design, knit 10, pearl 10 and I started it about 2 years ago. The amount of time and concentration required to knit one throw blanket is immense, it makes me really appreciate quilting and my sewing machine!I won't even tell you how long it takes me to get from one side of this afghan to the other! Regardless I continue to knit day after day, you know why? Because hard, labor-intensive work builds character, or at least that's what I tell myself!
Here is another project I started quite some time ago. I used fabrics I was not that found of, cut them into strips and started to knit them together into a rug. Although this is pretty difficult and quite a waste of fabric, I find the finished product really adorable. Now I just have to keep going and finish this thing!

What crafting projects do you struggle with?

Friday, August 6, 2010

I've Been Busy

I've been busy cutting, ironing and sewing, and therefore I have not been diligent about posting my progress. I don't think I've mentioned it, but when I quilt I am deep in thought. Sometimes, I don't even do anything but sit, make notes on a piece of paper, and contemplate my finished product.

There is a lot of math calculations and planning that goes into a quilt, it's not all fabric and fun. I mean it is to me, but to the outsider looking in; it's difficult!
In the picture above there is a lot of planning, cutting, staring and thinking going on.

And finally, the less difficult part of quilting begins, after all the pieces are cut!Here is another quilt that has been taking up my time. I started it about a month ago when I saw this post.
I had the colors all picked out for a few months, ever since I bought that patterned center fabric. It's one of those inspirational fabrics that makes you want to design a quilt around it. And lucky me, Amandajean already had, in the exact color scheme I was looking for.

And as I begin to baste, Pepe takes a seat to watch.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Don't you just love yardsales? I absolutely do! Most of the time there is nothing worth the dollar, but then sometimes you get REALLY lucky!

Last weekend I went to five yardsales, they were all horrible. Everything was overpriced and far from good condition, so I finally gave up searching and went home. Then to my surprise, my next door neighbor was having a yard sale and the deals were phenomenal!

I got this chair for $3, it can easily be recovered if necessary or left as is, I LOVE the polka dots!
For some reason, Daisy doesn't like to be left out of a photo opportunity.

I know you're asking, "Do I have kids?" Nope, but maybe someday, so in the interim this will sit in my closet. $3 is $3 whether you have a child or not. Besides, my cat does think it is a fun place to sleep.
Did I mention that it's a rocking chair... soooo cute!
And last, since this is a quilting blog, I found a sewing machine. It is not in pristine condition, but absolutely worth $5. I turned it on, it works beautifully and comes with a few different feet.
I will probably use this when guests come over and we have duel crafting projects, I can think of a few times when this would have been handy to have around the house. It did not come with a manual so it's a good thing I'm mechanically inclined, seems to work a lot like my Kenmore.
Yes, there were other purchases as well. I also purchased some life jackets for a dollar a piece in pretty good condition. We have a boat, which I often refer to as the "bucket of aluminum" in our garage, lol.
Overall, the best $12 I've spent in a long time!