Friday, April 19, 2013

Quilt Samples finished

I have finally finished all 16 quilt samples!  Plenty else going on in Life, so I haven't had alot of time dedicated to the sewing room.

First, I decided to deal with my sewing table.  I got tired of always having to unplug my cords to lift the machine to access my bobbin case.  I got my handy DH to get out his dremmel tool and here is my solution!

Now when I lift, the cords go like this:

I finally got into a groove with my samples and they turned out fine after I figured out my plan to revert back to my QuilTak basting system.

After I quilted, I serged the edges and I was very surprised how long that took.  I used a special foot I had never used before, and had to wind LOTS of bobbins to get through all of them.

I threw them in the washing machine and dryer to test them and see what kind of shape they would be in as far as puckering and whether my lines would disappear without any prep. If you open this next picture you'll see my red lines and the green test lines I did just to see my new pencil.

This was using a 100% cotton and muslin.  They shrunk alot, but thats because I did not give them any special care. I probably should not have dried them, but I was in a hurry.. Good thing though... you can no longer see the holes and even puckers virtually disappear when this shrunk!

I bought new quilt marking pencils.  I decided the red dressmaker's triangle wasn't a good idea. And, it did not come out completely after washing. My LQS carries these Sewline pencils, and I like the idea of a thinner line, replaceable lead in different colors, and no sharpening. The lines are supposed to erase or come out in the wash.  I drew on one of my samples to test in the wash. It came out just fine!

Now, I'll have to go back to working on my quilt top and the outside border. Then, I'll be quilting a real quilt! I think I'll be working with my free motion quilting some, but it is hard to have the machine set up for piecing and then switch over to quilting... But, I'll figure it out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quilting Samples

I've been working on my quilting samples as described in Heirloom Machine Quilting.
The page of examples was on my last post.

I started with the first ones and worked my way through drafting them onto the muslin.  I quickly found that my geometry skills were sorely lacking. I finally figured out how to draw all but 2 of them.  The two remaining ones I will be skipping since I cannot figure out how they work.  They are neither 30, 60 or 45 degree angles and do not run from a corner to corner. So, I have concluded that I would never bother to re-create that much angst by choice.

I changed my presser foot to a wide open foot to help with the puckering (my Dual Feed works with any of my feet), and proceeded to layer the pieces with my new safety pins. Here is my wide foot and pin style. I actually had many more pins in there, but took them out to change method. This was just a "staged" photo!
I did realize I should have quilted only 1 line and moved on to the next set of 3 and then come back and do the other 2, but oh well, that was the least of my problems. So you see that even sewing straight lines, my pins are too wide to get the foot down the line straight without taking out the pin?

This is the major problem I was running into with the quilting. When I got to the pieces that had crossing lines, the first line puckered badly and the whole thing was a bit puckery.  I decided pins were not my friend.  Besides, they were too big to fit between the lines (even in those BIG squares) and I'd have to take them out as I went. I call that a Pain in the Bu..behind.
You see, after reading in the book about how my QuilTak left too big of holes in fabric, I thought I would go for the safety pin method. After doing several pieces this way I cannot see that the pin holes are any smaller than the ones left behind on my QuilTak gun. In fact, there are 2 for every 1 of the QuilTak's.  And, it is SO much easier to baste with the gun and taks. Also, the Taks fit perfectly between lines, even when they are very small squares or lines!  And... The quilting ends up SO much nicer!  Take a look!
 Far fewer puckers all over, and NO bad stuff when crossing lines.  I know you can tell where the middle was in the first example shown, but I dare you to find the 2 beginning cross lines in either of these two samples!
So, I ordered more of my Taks and will be storing away those awful safety pins.  I guess I'm glad I tried it the other way, just to confirm that the QuilTak was just fine. Better even.   I do realize that if I were to use Batik's or other very tightly woven threads that I might have an issue, but at this point, it isn't.

As soon as I have finished all 16 of these, I will get back to my border and my bird quilt project.  Until then.... Have a great Spring Day!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Grrr.. How to do angles?

I need math help!  I clearly do not have my geometry down.

First, I'm working on the borders for the 1st project: Cowboy Corral. I need to add length to the inner border strip on the sides, and according to the instructions, I should be able to sew these two pieces together putting them right sides together, with equal corner tips hanging over and sewing 1/4" seam from little crook to other side crook. (First I cut them at 45 degree angle together right sides up)
 But, this is what happens, they do not make for a straight line.  I tried 3 times. Not working.
What am I not doing correctly?
I fudged and cut some of the edges off and made it work, since I cut them wide anyway.  Not correctly done, but I got the border on the hard way. I'm SO glad the suggestion is to start back with the first project.  This poor quilt is going to be horrible!!  It was the first on the piecing, so it wasn't very precise. Then, it gets the guinea pig trial for the borders, and THEN it will get the first start of quilting!  Yep, this one will have to be designated the doggie blanket.

 I'm going to skip the outer border for now... Anyone have suggestions? Otherwise, I'm just going to use the straight across method! Whew... way too much angst.

I decided after that, I would start with the Heirloom Quilting book, and do some samples.  I bought some muslin, and Fairfield Cotton Classic and thought I would make up these samples as recommended.  These are not batting samples, but straight line quilting samples. ie.. practice.
I was using a blue pencil to draw my lines until the lead kept breaking.  The only thing I had available was red tailor chalk.  I like it better, but it will be interesting to see if it all comes out of the white muslin.  I'll eventually need to get some better marking tools.  Anyone use these triangles?
What kind of marking tools are your favorite? Will a Plain Ole Pencil work?

Anyway, I was doing fine with marking the first 5 examples.  Then, I got to the 6th with the diagonal lines that don't intersect and my mind went blurry. So I skipped it and moved to the next one. 

I used my 45 degree line on my Creative Grid ruler and attempted to make the lines 1" apart. This took a while to mark 1" away from the previous line and then confirm the 45degree angle.  But, it isn't like the way the book suggested with marking the edges with the ruler.  The next one was even more tricky with the double lines.  I still couldn't figure out how to mark, and so I used the "wrong" method again of measuring from the previous line.  Then, I got to the crosshatch one and I just drew a blank, again. 

This is my "issue".  If I want a 1" grid, I think of it as 1" between lines running parallel.  If I measure between the lines at an edge, it is WAY more than an inch between them.  If I mark 1" on the edges, the lines are no where near 1" apart. 
After much contemplation (how embarrassing)  I did, however, finally figure that it measures 1" from top of diamond to the bottom of a diamond. Hmmm. Is that really a 1" grid?   I guess so....but if I put my ruler down, no way, no how does it come close to any square being 1".

Ok, so if that is the real measurement, how do you figure out where to mark the edges of something like No. 6, or 10? (counting left to right, top to bottom on the sample page above?)

I have no idea how to figure how far to mark my lines on the edges and how to make them spaced properly. I'm using a 12.5" or 12" square... which ever works!
Anyone have some good math skills that can explain a "simple" way to figure this?  Grrr..

No. 6 is especially tricky because I need to figure out where to measure on the inside of the square as well as the outside edges.
and No. 10 seems like a day's worth of geometry to figure out the increment measurements to make them spaced properly if marking from the edges rather than just going for it the way of using one line to measure the next.  (which is not recommended because it compounds the smallest error with each new line..)
Ok, anyone able to do the math and explain it to me as well??