Friday, May 29, 2015

Vol 2 Sampler Poject

 My finished Pieced Sampler :
We began this sampler in Vol. 1 as our learning piece to test our 1/4" seam, pressing, cutting, etc.. before venturing into the actual projects of quilt tops.
We start Vol. 2 with setting our small 9 patches into diagonal sets (the ones you see floating in white) and then assembling all the completed blocks together.
Here are the diagonals I just completed.

Many look through Vol 2 in a cursory view and see much of the same thing and think vol 2 is full of review: 9 patch, rail fence and strips made into squares. What they don't realize is all the projects are now set on point in a diagonal.

The challenge now becomes BIAS edges and LOTS of triangles.  This is very different than what we did in Vol. 1. Yes, the strips and 9 patches are common to both volumes, but setting them on point involves lots of math, and keeping track of which stack of triangles you cut for side settings and corner settings! I think I'm going to make a special marker for the two piles.

I don't have the special ruler Harriet suggests for making the math go away, so I used Method 2, which is cutting triangles with space to spare.

After I cut the ones for the sides, making sure it was a large square that was cut into 4 triangles, so that the long edges are all on the straight grain rather than bias, and then cutting smaller squares cut in half for corners, I realized they were all the same size!  BUT, one set had 2 straight grain edges, and one set had only one straight grain edge.  It Is Very Important to keep the piles labeled and separate!  This creates a stable edge to work with which doesn't bend and distort as much as working with bias on edges.  This is a Very helpful tip! I know, because my mom just confessed that her long arm quilter had a hard time with squaring her latest quilt top because of all the bias edges! That will be one problem I will now be able to avoid. hehe.

Speaking of Mom, while she was here we attempted to work magic on the Dreaded Pointy End Table Runner (Carrie's Mitered Edge), and... no success.  It is in the drawer of UFO's, to be tackled some other year. Or, maybe until I get the courage to ask my LQS for help.

I'm off to gather fabric for my first project. At least we are still getting yardage requirements, because I see that the instructions are getting more sparse.  I suppose it is a good thing I just proved to myself with the Vol. 1 Final Exam that I am capable of figuring many of the details myself!
I think I'm ready to venture into my own colors too.  Last year I duplicated the Master's as closely as possible. I figure that anyone who aspires to learn from the Master, copies first.  So, my whole first year of projects were basically copies of the Harriet and Carrie's creations.  This year, I am going to stretch myself and see if I can make my own color schemes!  Maybe.  LOL.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quilter's Academy Vol. 1 Final Exam

Pondering the Final Exam:
I'm looking at a picture of a quilt which Harriet refers to as Homespun. It is a combination of 9 patch and Burgoyne blocks.

I am supposed to calculate grid size, yardage required, construction, assembly, and pressing.

I'm obviously going to do this, it is part of the course projects.
Can I do this?
I'm not doing this.
Do I want to do this?        
Why would I want to do this?

I decided to revert to my goals in order to make a decision.
I want to piece and quilt with joy and accuracy, making quilts, table runners, seasonal items and gifts and to finish my UFO's that were started but beyond my ability.  I will keep a blog to keep myself accountable to finishing the course and hopefully find others who are also on the journey to learn to quilt better.

Harriet and Carrie's Goal as stated in the Preface:
Our plan is to walk you through a series of classes, lessons and projects that will build one skill on another, so that when you have worked your way through the entire series of books you will be well on your way to being a master piecer. Each book in the series is like a year of college courses, from Freshman to PhD candidate.  After your "college education" you will never again be dependent on books and patterns, but will be able to draft or design anything you can dream up, and you will know how to piece and quilt it yourself! 

Our goals are shared with the exception of design.  I have not been convinced of the usefulness of design. However, as I say that I glance back at my post "Reminiscing while Awaiting" and see the 2nd and 3rd quilts I started my journey with (the Airplane and Patriotic quilts) and laugh. I designed them from start to finish. I suppose that maybe my goals were not exactly based on previous experiences. LOL.  Should they?  probably.  But, I really want to see myself following more patterns. :)

After examining the Exam Quilt more carefully, I see that all the units are made up of units we have been making throughout the book.  There is nothing new here. This final is really just a test of whether or not we can do what we have been doing all year, without all the instruction details.
I CAN DO THIS. Therefore, I shall do this. There is no reason why NOT to do this.

I cannot imagine approaching this without first doing the calculations on paper. It's the numbers side of me. lol.
I figured out all the units, grid size and yardage.  I'm using the smallest grid size of 1", which makes for 15" blocks!  That is huge!  Well, bigger than we have done before.  I used fabric stash that fit my required yardage, with the exception of the background fabric I needed to buy.

Admission: I did not make a mock up of a block.  I really don't like that step!

Because this is an exam and others may be doing this, I'm purposely not giving any other details of calculations, assembly, etc.

Here is my pieced top!

Things I learned from the Final:

  1. Do not take off a year between piecing projects and doing the final. LOL.   I felt like I was doing fine, until I started putting together the actual 15" block.  All my small squares were measured great. But, when I put them together, I was off.
  2. I will not be using cheap fabric any more.  I bought some cheap Joanne fabric for the background.  It took me 4 hrs. to straighten the grain.  And, I think it was still out of wack because my pieced squares are fine, and the solid background pieces throw off my measurements.
  3. It was easier to do than I thought, which means I have learned ALOT.
  4. I have not yet attached the borders, nor quilted this.  The Green is not really that bright green. lol. Since I don't like the outcome so far (it does not measure up to where I left off with the last project) I am not planning on finishing this.  I think it has already served its purpose. If I decide to learn a new quilting method, I may use this as a practice piece!

I have thoroughly enjoyed this class.  I have learned so much and have improved my accuracy. Even more, I have learned to slow down and enjoy the process.
  1. I can easily say ironing used to be the worse part. I've always hated to iron.  Now, I can see how important it is, and how I can CHANGE the way the fabric lays with ironing!  And, starch!  I've also been using Best Press.  It works well also.  I admit that I am learning to like the ironing! I listen to music, or audio books, and just take my time.  
  2. I've learned where my 1/4" seam is.  I've marked my machine. I've learned where to cut using the outside line of the ruler grid line. It all makes a difference.
  3. I think the entire Vol. 1 has been a great learning experience. With every project I have learned something, and seen improvement in my piecing skill. I will reiterate here though, the one project that did not belong in this volume was the mitered pointy ended table runner.  There just wasn't enough instruction and it was too complicated for first year. 
  • I started my Freshman year in Jan of 2013. 
  • I finished all the quilt top projects by March of 2013! (Obviously, the projects themselves do not take that long. )
  • 3/13-4/14: It took me a full year to gain the courage to learn to quilt the projects.  
  • April 2014: I started with quilt samples, and spent a couple of months playing with Harriet's Machine Quilting book. I just wasn't inspired. My Pfaff is not particularly well suited for quilting, and so I procrastinated some more.
  • Nov. 2014:  I wander into my Local Quilt Store for sewing machine inspiration and find out they have opened a quilting studio and I immediately thought, "This I Can Do".  I took a certification class the very next week. 
  • Nov 2014- May 2015: All the quilt top projects are completed.
  • May 2015 Final Exam
Now that I have finished all those projects, I am not convinced I want to forever do all my quilting at the store on a stand up long arm machine. There are benefits and drawbacks.

The Pro's:
  • It is fast.  I finished most projects in 2 hours or less. 
  • It is no doubt a lot easier than attempting to use my home machine. It got me DOING IT.
  • No basting necessary.
  • No marking necessary.
  • The machines are made to do quilting exclusively, and are easy to manipulate.
  • Stitch regulators make sure the stitches are even and beautiful.
  • Atmosphere of other quilters, support staff, and companionship.
The Con's:
  • I pay for rental time, and feel the need to start and finish in one rental session.
  • Pantographs are the only feasible method to use in order to start and finish in one session.
  • Free motion takes more time.
  • Standing at the machine for hours is not comfortable for me.
I hope to refine my method of quilting this next year.  I plan on winning a sit down long arm machine for the home this June from the APQS giveaway!

I am considering myself a Sophmore student now, and moving into the next course book!
I hope you will continue to follow my progress.  Drop me a line and let me know you are here!
And, Thank You Harriet and Carrie Hargrave for putting together a wonderful course to teach us to quilt with knowledge and accuracy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Irish Chain Scrap Quilt Complete!

My Last Assigned Project is quilted!

Again, it is taken from the side due to the table in front of my design board, but...

I picked an Intermediate Pantograph, had my LQS load the quilt and I came in and spent 2 hrs. quilting on the long arm machine this AM. Can't believe how fast this can be done on a long arm! Feels like cheating. lol.  I spent many more hours piecing it.  And then, poof, 2 hrs. and it is quilted.  Another 1.5 hrs. and the binding will be on and the quilt can be used!

This was my favorite quilt to piece, as I fell in love with the challenge of picking scrap fabrics and finding just the right placement. I'm happy with the way it turned out.

There is always something new to learn on machine quilting though, and this time, I accidentally went back the wrong way when lines crossed, and duplicated a small section.
Do you see it?  I will need to do a bit of thread picking, again. lol.

Although I didn't finish the course by my goal date of May 1 (which was picked because of how busy May gets for us) I AM finished before my guests arrive for the High School Graduation next Saturday.  So, I feel like I'm going to consider this a success anyway!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Quilting of the Irish Chain Baby Quilt

This is the first Irish Chain quilt we made, this one being a baby quilt.  I added 4 borders and considered it adaptable to boy or girl.  I found an expectant recipient, a girl baby, so used the pink binding, and a pink flannel backing. This is the first one I've washed and dried, and I like the antique look of the shrinkage.

Because I had a "free" valet service left on my Rental Card, I took this in on Monday afternoon and picked out the thread and pantograph to use. On Wednesday Morning, I walked into the store at 9:00 AM and there it was completely and perfectly loaded on a new long arm machine!  My local quilt shop now has 3 new models of Long Arms, including GEORGE!  George is the machine I've been entering EVERY day to win!

I've been using an APQS Millie machine.  They had swapped out one of the Millie's for a Lucy, a less computerized machine, but same size.  I liked the idea of less is more, but it sure made a lot of clunking noise!  I chose a heart design, thinking it would be nice for baby quilt.  It was a bit more of a challenge than others, because of the many tight curves and "V" angles, but I think I did well!   Becky who loaded the machine was impressed with how nicely the patchwork was pieced!  She has followed my journey from the start of my quilting at the shop.  It's nice to see progress! And, the quilting came out beautiful for the quilt!

As always, there is something to learn.  This time, the quilt was loaded a bit low. Or, the pantograph was loaded low. Either way, I had a bit more gap at the top than usual.  They have told me that I can come back to the top at the end and fill in the open space, but I have never felt that the space needed it.  I didn't even give it a thought when I finished.  I took it off the machine and hurried home to put it on my design board to examine, and measure for binding.  Well, after studying it off and on for a couple hours, I decided I just couldn't live with it that way.

I brought it back into the quilt store and asked if I could use the pantograph and draw the missing parts on and use GEORGE to free motion quilt it :)  I REALLY wanted an opportunity to try out this machine, as I have set my heart on owning one some day. hehe.  Well,  winning one in June, actually. lol.

Although I did not finish quilting all the tops by my goal of May 1, I am REALLY close. I have the borders attached on the second Irish Chain (scrap) quilt  and have also been working on the Final Exam!  Woo Hoo,  Even though I am ready to go with the quilting of the last project top, I don't think I can finish before the graduation guests arrive.  I will soon be breaking down the Quilting Room, in exchange for the Guest Room.  But, I DO know that while Mom is here, I WILL be getting her help on the Dreadful Mitered Table Runner!  :)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Carrie's Country Lane Mitered Table Runner Update

This is the dreaded project I have been putting off.  But, after finishing the last table runner, and seeing it on my table, I decided I'd attempt this one.

This runner has 6 sides.  It was a project of frustration to figure out how to make the pointy ends in the first place.  I have cut the borders as stated in the directions.  Lots of extra on the ends. And, I think if I can complete it, it would look nice!  HOWEVER.... The instructions for the border is as bad as the instructions were for the pointy ends.

These instructions are for nice 90 degree angles.  
DO YOU SEE any 90 degree angles in my actual project?       No :(

I went to YouTube, and searched for any examples of how to do this. I only found nice square or rectangle examples of mitered borders. 

So, I decided to brave it, and attempt to follow the instructions. 
Under normal square conditions, you would leave the border as such. I sewed up to the 1/4" at both ends, and of course, I can't unfold my straight long edge. LOL. 
Seem ripper to the rescue.  Attempt #1 Fail.
So, I press my long edges out.  Easy sides done. LOL.
Now, I sew the 2 short edges on, and press out, leaving the 1/4" and back stitch seams as directed.  
Now what?  If I fold a 90 degree angle, as the book suggests, this is the only way to do that.  I am folding the top border under, while the bottom has no where to go.  I pinned them together here. But, even if I use "glue" as stated in the instructions instead of pins, HOW DO I SEW THIS?  there is no under side to sew so that I dont have a seam running down the face of this.  Fail #2

And, how about the pointy end?  Does this look like a 90 degree angle?  Fail #3, YOU'RE OUT!

I Have confirmed that THIS PROJECT does NOT belong in Year One.  

It is going back in the drawer for another year. LOL. 
And, I am not going to have it in the back of my mind that I need to finish it.  Don't bother with this project. Save yourself the frustration.  Move on.  Don't go here. The End of the story for Mitered table runner.