Monday, October 12, 2009

After Quilt Camp Fall 2009 ...

Lovely fall color (rich reds this year!) on the drive out to the camp at Lake Lucerne. The sky was cloudy with lots of different grays and blues with varying cloud textures. It reminded me of the blue fabrics I brought along for the Wicked Easy Quilt Project I never got to ...

Here's what I did get done over the weekend :

Project No. 1 : The Spools Quilt

The Spool Blocks are sewn and squared up. Here are about 1/2 of the Spools blocks. I just love the way these turned out. Now they'll sit on my design wall until I settle on how I want to sew them up ... Just looking at it in the pictures now, I see it needs some more tweaking. Easier to fix now, than after it's all together!

I think this turned out to be my favorite block. I'm not a big fan of yellow, but it just goes so well with this purple-brown compliment (Do I have my color theory right on that?).

Here's a close-up on some of the luscious colors and textures. Mmmmhhh!

Turns out I need about 4 more of these blocks to complete the pattern. The jelly roll I bought didn't have quite enough strips for this pattern, so I'll have to go digging through the stash to find 4 more strips.

These are fun to make, and go pretty fast (compared to a lot of quilt blocks out there). I might make another one with a different set of colors. The Handcocks-of-Paducah-Island-Batiks jelly roll set came in the mail on Saturday while I was at camp ...

Project Number 2 : Quilt CL's Millifiore Quilt
Much to my surprise, before 11 pm on Saturday night, I got all the center swirls quilted on this one :

It's a little hard to see on the front as the blocks themselves are so busy to begin with. The swirly quilting pattern really does set them spinning / reeling as if they were dancing, or pin- wheels spinning.

Here's another picture without the flash where it might be easier to see the quilting on the front :

Here are the swirls from the back :

Rewind :
In the afternoon, I safety-pin basted the Millifiore quilt sandwich on a nice long table. What a treat that was! I just don't have anything at home I can use for that task--which is why I've always hated it. Working on a carpeted floor is just plain unsatisfactory. At Quilt Camp, I got to use the 2 new clamps my husband gave me for my birthday (He got them at the local hardware store.) :

I thought I'd need more than just 2 clamps, but that was enough for this lap-sized quilt. [I had my camera at Quilt Camp, but I left my battery in the charger at home--so no actual pictures from Quilt Camp.] Here are the basic steps for pin-basting :
1) Lay out the quilt backing flat on the table and anchor one side with clamps. It's okay if some of it hangs off the edge.
2) Layer on batting. I use Hobbs 80/20 for an old-timey look. After it's washed, it looks antique with puckers. The other neat thing about this batting is that it sort of "sticks" to the fabrics before you even pin-baste it.
3) Lay the quilt-top on top. Make sure everything is smooth as possible. Work out any wrinkles, and smooth everything out. Then you can start to pin-baste. I put safety pins in with about the width of my fist in between.
4) When you've finished the section on the table-top, un-do the clamps and carefully, slide the basted section over the edge to work on the remaining un-basted section. Clamp again, smooth again, and continue to pin baste.

After it was pin-basted, I stitched-in-the-ditch with my waling foot along the latice-work--just to give it stability when I came back over it for the free-motion swirls.

Here's the map I laid out for the quilting :

Just practicing this by drawing it helps to get the pattern in muscle memory. And it helps me figure out how I'll get from one swirl to the next.

No--it's not perfect. It's entirely free-hand on my little Viking. Just a lot of practice making those swirls. With free-motion quilting, it took me an hour to warm-up with some practice pieces like this one :

The practice also gives time to figure out the proper settings for tension, etc. It's well-worth the time and effort! Once I got going on it, the quilting took only a little over 2 hours. As you might guess, it wasn't until the final blocks that I really started to feel comfortable with the motif and the stitches synced with the machine speed. That always takes practice--especially since I don't do this every day.

I still need to quilt the borders, and bind with the rest of the finishing touches. I'm hoping this will be finished so I can enter it into my local LSQG Quilt Show at the end of the month.

On Sunday, I started to work on the Weekend Messenger Bag, but I got so frustrated with the cryptic directions that I finally had to put it away. I'll try that some other day.

Marylin C. gave a great demo of The Disappearing 9-Patch. This is an easy technique I want to try in future. Stay tuned! Here's a nice example and explanation of a Disappearing 9-Patch by Valentine QuiltWorks.

The Dining Hall where we sewed at Lake Lucerne Camp was so spacious! There were 24 quilters there working, and we still had room for more! Everyone had a seat and a table with a view of the lake. It was great! I was one of the last people to arrive, so I got a table at the far end in the corner with Liz, Marge and Shirley, a knowledgeable cadre of quilter. I knew Liz already, but not the other 2 ladies. Marge had the same sewing machine as me--mine only comes out when I'm traveling as I know how to use my Viking Rose at homoe better than this Designer 1. Marge taught me how to use the needle threader! That was the great discovery this time. Otherwise, I was able to make the Designer do what I needed it to do : Straight stitch for piecing and quilting, and set-up for free-motion. I'm getting more comfortable with it each time I use it. So this time, it worked really well for me (manual in hand). It really is more machine than I need with the embroidery (which I don't use.)

Most indispensable quilting tools :

1) Olfa square rotating cutting matt is just the thing to square up quilt blocks (along with the appropriate rulers and rotary cutter, of course).

2) Sewing machine with a sensor that allows for turning fabric when stopped in needle-down position. That was a nice perk of the Designer 1 that I don't have on the Viking Rose.

All-in-all, it was a good productive and pleasant weekend. I'm planning to attend next year with my Quilt Guild Ladies.

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