X and +

Who can resist the x and + quilt blocks popping up all over the internet. Certainly not me. Especially not when I had a whole stack of Anna Maria Horner Field study fabrics begging to be made into a quilt. If you are looking to make one of your own, I followed this tutorial. I found it very simple to follow with good pictures and written explanations. I especially like that there are three different sets of measurements depending on how big you want your blocks to be.

I decided to make my blocks 10-inches finished. I wanted the pieces big enough to show the larger scale prints. I started by cutting all of the strips and squares I was going to need. Since I was only using prints, and they were all different (i.e. no background fabric here), I wanted each block to be unique and scrappy. Once I had all of my fabric cut I gathered the required number of pieces for each block and separated them into plastic sandwich bags. This ensured each block was different and kept each blocks pieces together until I had assembled it.

process

Here you can see baggies of blocks (top left), chain pieced block components (bottom), and finish blocks (top right).

X and +

A sidenote on chain piecing: When I started quilting I did all of my piecing and quilting by hand (no sewing machine at the time). Once I started sewing with a machine I would sew each seam and take it out of my machine. I found that this wasted a lot of thread, but I figured that was how it was done. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was introduced to chain piecing. Whereby each seam is sewn one right after another, and each section is connected with a small bit of thread. You can then clip them apart when you are ready to use them. When I get to the end of the pieces I am sewing I run a small scrap of fabric (about 1.5-inches square) through my machine so I can get the last piece out. So much less wasteful and so efficient.

pieces

I was able to get 33 blocks from a little less than 18 fat quarters. I decided on a 5X6 block layout, making my quilt around 50X60-inches finished. I like this size. It is manageable to sew and big enough to cuddle with on the sofa with a cold beer. That left me with three extra blocks and extra bits of fat quarters to construct a scrappy back.

whole back  back detail

With so much going on with this scrappy quilt, I decided simple straight line quilting with a rainbow verigated thread would be best. Once my quilt was well basted, I started with one verticle line down the center of the quilt. I then used my presser foot as a guide along that line of stitching, with my needle as far to one side as possible, resulting in 1/2-inch spacing. I continued in this manner across the width of the quilt.

 whole front  front detail

So what do you think of my x and + quilt?

Thanks Mom!

I may be a little late getting to this, but for Christmas 2012 I asked for (you guessed it) fabric.  What more could a girl want?  Well Mom came through (Thanks!).  She sent me two beautiful jelly rolls of Cuzco by Kate Spain for Moda, a beautiful pattern to use my jelly rolls, and a jelly roll of Moda ombre solids.  For those of you that don’t know a jelly roll usually contains 42 2.5-inch wide strips of fabric.  Generally one or two strips of each fabric in a collection.

Jelly roll

A sidenote on pre-washing:  Like the two sides of a coin, there are two sides of the debate in favor or against the pre-washing of fabric.  I am on the side for pre-washing.  As soon as I get new fabric home I throw it in the wash with a little detergent and cold water.  I believe this accomplishes several goals:

  • It eliminates any extra dye that may bleed with other fabrics after a quilt is constructed;
  • it shrinks, and corrects any weird sizing caused by the factory rolling the fabric onto the bolt, which may cause problems after quilt construction; and
  • it generally softens up stiff fabrics and eliminates any weird manufacturer/store smells making it nicer to work with.

The problem with working with jelly rolls, not really pre-wash friendly.  Cautiously, unwashed, I proceeded.  The pattern shows the prints paired with a white background fabric, but having just finished my Madrona Road challenge quilt with white, I decided to go with Kona Ash.  I thought this gray went well with the collection and even looks somewhat purple in the right light.

block 1 image

The pattern only calls for one jelly roll (I am going to save the second for another project) and results in 9 blocks, set 3X3, but after I finished those blocks I was left with a lot of left over strips so I decided to extend my quilt by another row.

For the back I used some left over jelly roll ends to make a 4-inch wide strip to give some interest, and I picked up one of the orange and pink prints from from the Cuzco collection from Quilt Expressions in Fishers, IN.  The ladies at this shop are so nice, and they have an AMAZING collection of solid fabrics for modern quilters.

Next step, quilting.  This is where I got a little stuck.  I could not decide how I was going to quilt this lovely.  I have this problem quite often, and I have found that if I seek the opinions of my fellow quilters they can be a big help.  I posted a picture of my quilt on the Indy Modern Quilt Guild Facebook Page and asked what they thought I should do.  After lots of feedback, a little head scratching, and some doodling I figured it out!  I realized that the print fabrics reminded me of Chinese paper lanterns, so I quilted large concentric circles around the Cuzco fabrics and free motion quilted a big pebble pattern in the open gray space.

FMQ settings

For the binding I used some more jelly roll scraps to make a scrappy binding (I like to have as little fabric left over at the end of a project as possible).

I am really happy with the way this quilt came out.  I think the only thing I would change would be the thread color.  Once I figured out how I was going to quilt it I charged forward with some heather (grayish purple) thread I had on hand.  I thought it would blend well on the front and look purplish on the back.  But in hindsight I think it stands out a little more than I would have liked.  But now that it’s washed, it is oh so lovely.

front  back

A special thanks to todays quilt model, Ashley.  Prettiest fingers and toes ever.

Amy Butler Radiance Quilt

January 24, 2013 was Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day!  Being a loving supporter of my local quilt shops I just had to participate, so after work I made my way down to The French Seam.  “The French Seam opened it’s doors in early summer, 2011.  Linda Compton and Courtney Young, mom and daughter, wanted to make fine fabrics accessible to the sewing community in Indianapolis and the Midwest.  The French Seam offers a selection of fashion fabrics, patterns, classes and notions that inspire all, from beginner to advanced sewing enthusiast!”  They were having a super sale that day to celebrate and I was able to snag a mixture of 20 fat quarters from Amy Butler’s Alchemy and Cameo collections.  I have been wanting to make a quilt from Amy Butler’s fabrics for some time, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to stock up.  I was so excited I immediately went home, washed them, dried them, pressed them, and refolded them.

Again the dilemma of what pattern to use.  I had two yellows, a few pinks/reds, a few more shades of green, and a slew of blues.  That’s when it hit me, yellow in the middle radiating out to blue.  I decided on equilateral triangles to give it some movement.  I carefully measured and remeasured to ensure I would use the most of my fabrics.  Unlike most quilters I hate having scraps at the end of a project.  I just never quite know what to do with them.

initial layout

As it started to come together it was time to head to JoAnns to find a solid fabric I could use for the back.  I went back and forth between purple and this fun bright green, but ended up settling on purple, and boy I’m glad I did.

back choice

With my backing fabric ready to go it was off to…my office.  That’s right I went to work on a Saturday, not to work but to take advantage of the GIGANTIC conference table.  The perfect surface for basting quilts.  I am able to lay out a large quilt, sit in a comfy chair, jam out to some good music and get basted.  For quilts that are larger than the conference table, I start in the middle and carefully slide it over untill the each side is basted.

A sidenote on basting:  I have tried a number of different basting methods.  I have found the method that works best for me is a combination of spray basting and pins.  The spray helps get everything nice and smooth and stuck together.  I have found that it is very important to work from the middle and work out when you are spray basting, but if you do get a few bubbles or ripples it is simple to peel apart and reposition it.  I also find it helpful to pin baste my quilts.  I am fairly slow at quilting and my sewing space is quite small, so my quilts get moved around a lot.  All that movement can cause the spray basting to lose its stick.  Pinning ensures that everything stays where it’s supposed to.

basting

For the quilting I used a multi color variegated thread that blended in nicely with the top, and a solid purple that disappeared on the back.  I quilted it in a straight line hexagon pattern.  Again I could not be happier with how this quilt turned out.

front back