Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Single Girl" Support Group: Finishing touches

Quilting has been completed.  The next step is to trim the edges.

For several years now, I've made tags for my baby quilts.  The tag goes on first and then the binding.

This is a walking foot.  It makes all layers of fabric go under the needle at the same time.  If you are going to do your own binding, it is a must-have tool.
Once the binding is sewn on, I removed the basting stitches.

Continuous bias binding is the only way to fly.  I posted a tutorial earlier about applying it.  You can find it here.

Once the binding is sewn on, it is turned to the back and sewn down by hand.

Here's a look at the front and the back.  This is why I love using striped fabric for binding.

Here's a finished corner.  I have one more side to sew down so the next post will be the final reveal.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Single Girl" Support Group: Nearly finished quilting

The baby quilt is nearly quilted.  I'm using the large half hoop to finish the edges.

Continuous lines of quilting are so much easier to quilt.  My goal is to get the binding on by tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

One Year out: Missing Mae

It's been one year since we lost Jim's mother, Mae "Peanuts" Fisher.  We are still feeling her loss keenly and can hardly believe it's been a year.  Dan has a post about his grandma today, too.  At certain times, I sense her presence. For example, on Sunday, we had breakfast with our niece, Cilloran, who had been home in New Jersey during spring break.  She and her sister had helped Jim's brother Scott go through Mom's extensive collection of cats to pick out some for each of the grandchildren and the rest of us.  Cilloran handed me a little cat figurine that was carved and said it had reminded them all of me and they thought I should have it.  It was one I had given Mom years ago and now it has come back to me.

Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
~Canon Henry Scott Holland from
"Death is Nothing at All"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Single Girl" Support Group: Marking and quilting

I have hand quilted each of the three "Single Girls" I've made differently.  The first one (Anna's wedding quilt) is quilted with a sashiko embroidery design called the seven treasures of Buddha.  I ordered an extra large 360° protractor to mark it.

The second one (Jim's woobie quilt) is done in the large meandering or stippling stencil.

For the third one (Henry's baby quilt), I'm going to do the design recommended in the pattern.  The photo above was taken during the basting process.  I tape the back down to the table and mark the center of the backing with pins, then I can line it up with the top.

Now it's all basted and ready to be marked.

I decided to make templates of the quilting design.   The inner four were small enough that I made a templates of the entire shape.  After that, I only made quarters.

Here are the little ones.  I marked the center and the four seams to help line them up.  I use a little chalk wheel to mark because it brushes off easily.

Here's the center marked.

And we're off to the races!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Single Girl" Support Group: Joining ring sections, Borders and getting ready to quilt

As I mentioned before, this current quilt is the third version of the "Single Girl" pattern that I've made.  I have added thin borders to each of the quilts I've made because I wanted some visual space (and actual fabric) between the rings and the binding.  Above is the border on Jim's woobie quilt. The border on this quilt was the same as the background fabric and that's what I've done for Henry's baby quilt.  For Anna's wedding quilt, I used a similar color to the background fabric.

I left my hand in the photo for scale.  You can see that joining ring sections leaves you with barely one quarter inch of fabric.  Adding binding to this would mean it would end up right on top of the ring.

Two ring sections joined leaves only one half inch.

I have been using borders that are cut one and three-fourths inches wide.  Borders are measured at the center of the quilt.  See this tutorial on borders that do not ripple.

Sew with the border strip on top and then press towards the border.

This is Henry's quilt.  Four rings and borders works out to about 45 inches square.

Continuous bias binding is all made.  See tutorial for that here.  The green jungle fabric is the backing.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Single Girl" Support Group: Joining up the quarters to make a ring and some thoughts about "squaring up" the blocks

First off, let me apologize to those of you who have never made or don't even have plans to make a "Single Girl" guilt.  I will be moving on to other things soon.

I have been concerned about the postings on the Flickr group because it seems that many people are experiencing frustration with the construction of this pattern.  "Single Girl" is a very well constructed pattern, but not really one that you want to cut your teeth on if you are a newbie quilter or sewer.  The teacher in me can't help but want to address some of the questions, so here is a short tutorial on putting the quarters together into a ring.

You now have four quarters finished.  The next step is to join two of them together.

I pin the two sections of the ring first.  Fold down one side so that you can put the seams together, then pin.  Do the same with the other side, then pin the background areas together.

I start sewing in the background area.  It is much easier than starting the other way.  When you connect the two halves, you will have to start sewing near a ring section, but I have a little trick to make that easier, too.

Do not sew over the pins.  Stop your machine before you get to the pin and pull it straight out to the side.  When you get to the ring sections, sew onto the ring seam allowance, then pull out the pin.  Having your needle in that seam allowance before you take out the pin will mean that you have a better chance of keeping the seams of the ring lined up.

Press the seam open.  You want to minimize thick seams at this stage.
The two sides of your ring should line up.

Sew the other two pieces in the same way so that you now have two halves ready to go together.
Fold down one side to line up your center seams and pin.

After the centers are pinned, I pin the two ring sections, then work my way to the center on each side pinning the background fabric.

When you join the two halves, you have to start with the ring side and with most sewing machines, the pin being so close is going to cause problems getting started.  Life up the presser foot and lower the needle into the fabric, then remove the first pin. Lower the pressure foot and begin sewing.  Press this seam open as well and your ring is complete.

Some thoughts on "squaring up the blocks"
Many people have posted on the Flickr group about squaring up the blocks both at the quarter ring and/or the finished ring stage.  Personally, I question the wisdom of this.  I put a ruler on the template for the outer background piece for the above photo.  Think about it.  Before you have seamed this piece, it is only 5/8 of an inch in width.  Take away 1/4 of an inch for the ring seam and another 1/4 for connecting it and you are not left with a lot of fabric. If you trim anything off to square up the block, your finished rings are going to be right on top of each other or even overlapping.  Personally, I think it is much easier to be accurate with your templates, cutting, and piecing, and skip the squaring off.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

"Single Girl" Support Group: Piecing an arc

The organizers of the "Single Girl" Quilt Along are taking turns sharing construction tips and techniques, so I thought I would join in the sharing.  All of us working on these quilts are using Denyse Schmidt's very well-designed pattern.  This is not a quilt that you can "fudge" on and get good results and this starts at the very beginning of the process.  Since I'm working on my third "Single Girl" quilt, I am speaking from experience with the pattern as well as nearly 50 years of sewing.  Accuracy is extremely importance from tracing templates, to cutting fabric pieces, to maintaining a quarter-inch seam in piecing.

Because you are piecing curves, the pieces do not line up perfectly as they go when you are piecing squares.  I've shown the quarter-inch gauge next to the little corner of the fabric that hangs out when you start to piece.

The first two pieces are sewn together and pressed. They should be even at the top and bottom.

I press all the seams in one direction. Pressing is something else that is important.  Not only does it make your piecing look nice, it helps with accuracy when piecing two sections together.

Here's another view of the little tail of fabric.

If you are having trouble getting the pieces even at the top and bottom, try this little test.  Put two pins parallel to the edge of the fabric right where your quarter-inch seam will be.

Next, flip open the fabric to see if the two pieces are even at the top and bottom.  Once you've sewn a few rings, you will get better at "eye-balling" where the pieces need to go.

I sew the larger quarter circle piece to the arch first.  I fold it in half and finger press it at the center.

Next, I fold the arch in half and finger press it at the center.

I marked the photo with a red line so you can see where the creases are.

Bring the two creases together with right sides together and pin.

Pin one edge.  The arc and the background fabric should be even.

Next, pin the other edge.

If you have "fudged" with the templates, the cutting, or the piecing, this is where it will all come to roost.
If you've been accurate, the arch and the background pieces should go together without much fuss.

This is a quarter-inch foot.  If you are a quilter, it is worth every penny it may cost to purchase one for your machine.  It eliminates guessing or the need to mark a quarter inch seam line.  Get the right tools for the job.

I press the seam toward the background pieces.  It will minimize a bunchy-looking seam.

To put on the smaller background piece, fold it in half and finger press at the center and then do the same with the piece you just sewed at the top of the arc.

Pin the center, then each of the ends and work to the middle.

The block after the final press.