Monday, February 28, 2011

A fun sewing-filled weekend

This past weekend we had some friends stay with us with their 3 little ones. There was quilting goodness all around. My friend and I got to go to a sew-in with the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild and I laid out blocks for a new project, we got to enjoy the anniversary sale at the Quilting Loft and the girls loved snuggling up with their "uncle" Buddy under a quilt I made a few years ago. I mean, how cute is that?

I made a tree block for the quilt our guild is making for Amber, who was scheduled to have her baby today!

And I picked the fabric for a very special upcoming project! Choosing the fabric is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt, and I'm really excited about the palette I put together!

In the back here you can see the "quilt" that our 4 year old friend made on my design wall from a Fandango charm pack. She's very talented already! :)

Thanks for looking!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A break from the diamonds

Okay, enough of the diamonds. Let's wrap it up - two things:
1. If you're using a template, don't assume that it will be the same exact shape and size right side up and upside down, no matter how symmetrical it looks. I'm embarrassed to say that this was most definitely the cause of most of my problems. When you're using solids it's that much harder since you can't tell front and back side... I suggest writing your name or something on the template so you can at least make sure the template is right side up. Then you can mark the fabric in some other way I guess.
2. When you are piecing your strips of diamonds together you can stretch them and make them line up pretty well. Even if they don't line up perfectly, just make it work. It's amazing how sewing at that angle can hide a lot!

I actually want to try a diamond quilt again (even though I'm not done with this one yet) because I love the look of it and learned so many things along the way! I guess I aired my dirty sewing laundry out here exposing all of my mistakes and "fudges," but if it helps someone else out then that's worth it.

I have a new addition to my family! Me and my new sewing machine spent a lot of time this weekend getting to know each other. The difference between my old machine and my new machine is huge and I'm really happy that I finally made the leap. For something that I use every day, it's probably a good idea for it to be a machine that works really well.

This is the project I was working on - and oh man did the quilting go a lot faster than it would have on my old machine!

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Diamond quilt - the first steps

1. Cutting

Some patterns call for cutting long strips of fabric and then slicing them on the diagonal. Brilliant! Well, if you only want/need a few diamonds of each color from a fat quarter bundle, this might not be the best method. Plus, a lot of books include diamond templates, making you believe that using template will be just as good...
The problem: cutting around a template is not that accurate, you can actually cut the template which makes it smaller and dulls the hell out of your blade, it takes forever, and seems to produce a lot of annoying-sized scraps. Also, since you are cutting at angles, you are never cutting along the grain so there is a lot of room for stretching which can distort the shape (this stretching is your BEST FRIEND in later steps though!)

Aargh!! I thought I was cutting accurately, but apparently they are not all the same size...

2. Piecing the diamonds

The diamonds need to overlap each other in such a way that when you sew them together with a 1/4 inch seam they press out to have even edges. Because of the stretching that can take place, and any inaccuracy during the cutting stage, this may be difficult to do. (No tutorial or pattern I have seen has ever mentioned this - for them it all lines up and comes out perfect!) The most important thing is that you stitch them together from from the valley that forms at one end of the seam to the valley at the other end. I think that even if the seam is not a PERFECT 1/4 inch the whole way across, that the diamonds will line up well when piecing the strips together if the stitching goes from "valley to valley." This is where the stretching comes in handy in later steps!

This is a good overlap and example of the stitching (hard to see) going right into the valley formed between "peaks":
This is quite obviously a bad overlap (because the diamonds were not cut very accurately), but as long as the stitching goes right into the "valley" and that part is about 1/4 inch from one edge it comes out okay.

aahhh....much better. See how the edges are straight now?

Again, this is not to say that anyone should aim for imperfection, but once I had all these diamonds cut I was determined to make them work!

Thanks for looking - and I apologize to followers like my sister who find the technical quilting stuff less than exhilarating... :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Piecing diamonds tutorial - the true hollywood story

I have shown a few peeks of a project I am currently working on that involves piecing diamonds. I have run into several issues while working on this and I haven't been able to find any tutorials to help me fix them! This made me realize that most patterns/tutorials/techniques show everything going great, and at the end of it you have a perfect product! Well, how often does THAT actually happen?? There don't seem to be any that are like, "Well, you sure messed that up, but here's how you can fudge it and make it work." I'm not aiming for mediocrity here, just admitting publicly that it's okay for projects to not be PERFECT - they are made by humans after all, right?

So I decided I'm going to show what happened to me, and hopefully it will help someone else to avoid similar problems. I think this will be a 2-3-part post since there are issues at every freaking step of the way!

I wish I could say that I know the outcome will be perfect, but since this is a work in progress (as all of quilting - and life I suppose - is) we'll just have to see. The whole point of this anyway, is about how to make something that's not perfect into something that will be loved for years to come. You know how I am about the relationships I develop with quilts. I'm committed to making it through this rough patch. I hope this will help someone else's quilt-love troubles too!

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

super sunday!

As many people are vegged out in front of the tv watching the Superbowl, I'm painstakingly re-piecing these diamonds. The first time I stitched them all together I didn't think that perfection was necessary (when piecing squares you can always trim them!) but diamonds are a different story. Anyway, a glass of wine and Whip It on dvd is making this much more tolerable.

On my design wall. I've had this Fandango charm pack and I seriously love this line. The colors are just so warm and the prints really complement each other perfectly. I don't know what to do with it yet, but I like looking at the squares all together on my wall!
This is my block for the Sew Fresh Fabrics scrap bee. They sent scraps in the mail and we could make whatever block we wanted. We send them back and they're put together and donated to Project Linus. I just started sewing strips together, cut them apart, turned them around, played some more and voila. It's not my favorite block I ever made, but it was kind of a fun process to just piece and cut and see what happens!

This is one of two final fabric shipments - for awhile. I'm happy to add all of these to my stash, but I don't have plans for them yet.

p.s. even though I PROMISED on this very blog that I wouldn't buy any unessential fabric until Sherbet Pips comes out in April, I had to support the local shop where we went for our anniversary getaway. Any fabric with red in it was 25% off so it was kind of a sin not to buy a little something - only 1/2 yard of a gorgeous Tanya Whelan red polka dot! :)

Thanks for looking!