Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's a beautiful day to be outside!

Remember when you were in elementary school,  the weather outside was beautiful and it was hard to stay focused on learning?  And you would always ask your teacher, "Can we have class outside today?"  Today reminded me of one of those days!  So, since I'm no longer in school and don't have to ask permission, I decided to have class outside today!

One of the perks of urban living is having a 4th floor rooftop deck to enjoy on days such as this.  I just finished a denim and flannel rag quilt rug, so I took it up to the roof to take advantage of the natural light for photos.  

This quilt had no "recipe" (or pattern) to start.  I began by cutting down a bunch of old blue jeans that I no longer had use for.  Okay, I'll admit, some had gotten a little too tight over the years, but I did have some that I'm glad to say were too big!  Because rag quilts need a healthy seem allowance for fraying, I started with 7" squares that would be 5" finished after a 1" seam allowance on all sides.  I also supplemented the denim with 3 different flannel fabrics, Horsin' Around, found at Cabbage Rose.

I made sandwiches with one piece of denim and one piece of flannel, WST, and stitched a 1" seam all around.  I then stitched a diagonal line across each block.  It's important to use a heavy-duty or denim needle, otherwise you'll need to wear goggles!  Next step,  I sewed the pieces together, carefully going through 4 layers of thick fabric.  

Make sure that all of your seams are turned towards one side of your quilt.  This is what the underside of your quilt should look like.


The best part about this type of project?  There is no biding to hand-sew!  To finish the project, you'll want to invest in spring loaded snip scissors, to keep your hand from cramping!  I found a pair like this:

Clip all of your seams at about 1/4" increments and you are ready to wash and fray!  I would recommend taking your quilt to a coin laundromat to preserve your home washing machine, unless you know how to change your filter.  The frayed bits will quickly accumulate and clog your machine.  

Here's a look at the finished product:
I think it will make a nice housewarming gift for my old friend that moved away from Texas!

I'm off to England tomorrow, so this will be my last post for a few weeks!

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Quilt for Spring

Wow, today is the first day of Spring and after temperatures in the mid-70s yesterday, it is now 34 degrees and snowing!

My newest quilt is a gift for my dear friend, Gigi. She may very well be the most amazing woman I know and I adore her completely. Not only is Gigi a mother, a writer, a business owner, and a Tai Chi Master, she's also a breast cancer survivor. I met Gigi shortly after her diagnosis and was amazed at her strength and her spirit. To honor her, I wanted to make her a quilt that reflected her personality.

I chose fabric from the Whimsy by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller collection. I love the pinks and greens together!

So, tomorrow I will hand deliver this quilt to Gigi and hope it brings her as much happiness as it did for me while I was making it for her.

Because this quilt is special, I backed it with red minky dot.  I think it makes the quilt feel like a big hug!  I initially wanted a pink backing, but I was only able to find light pink minky, which I felt would make the quilt seem like a baby quilt.  On the contrast, I think the red gives it a grown up style.

Some people choose to wash their fabrics before they quilt, however I prefer to work with unwashed fabric.  This can be tricky if you've got a quilt with both white and bright colors all going into the wash after its completion.  Especially that red minky dot, which can bleed all over your bright whites and turn them pink.  Have no fear!

SC Johnson has a great product, Shout Color Catcher,  that traps dyes in the wash and keeps them from depositing onto lighter fabrics.  For this lap size quilt, I used about 5 Color Catcher cloths and it kept my whites totally bright!

This is what the cloth looks like before...

...and after.

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 12, 2010

QuiltFab for iPhone

If you are anything like me, you've found yourself in the middle of a fabric store having realized that you have no idea how much fabric you need to start or complete a quilt.

QuiltFab for iPhone is a free app that allows you to specify your quilt's width and height, fabric width and shrinkage % and many other settings to compute how much fabric you need for your quilt, including borders, sashing and binding.

If you are a quilter with an iPhone, this app is a must-have!

Get QuiltFab on iTunes!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Easter in England

For my first quilting blog post, I thought I would start with my first quilt.  What does that have to do with Easter in England?  You'll see.

My mom quilted when I was a kid, but she mostly hand-quilted traditional designs, so I never had much interest when I was younger.  I learned to sew with my grandmother, who taught me how to make clothes for the porcelain dolls that we made together.  Talk about tedious!  Needless to say, I put the sewing machine away for a couple decades.

My friend, RaeRae, is a quilter and the person I hold responsible for introducing me to modern fabrics.  She's also responsible for inviting me to my first quilt retreat.  What a friend, right?  Anyway, I wanted to make a quilt for my MIL, Maggie's, 50th birthday (April 2010), so I enlisted RaeRae to help me choose fabric and a pattern.  She suggested that I start with a Shattered Nine Patch pattern using charm squares.  We met at a great little quilt shop, Cabbage Rose, in Fort Worth to pick out fabric.  RaeRae has an eye for fabric and color!  We both loved Hello Betty by Chloe's Closet for Moda.  We supplemented with a cream/white accent fabric, Brown Moda solid for the narrow border and Terra Cotta from Deer Valley by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit for the wide border.

There is a wholelottalove in that quilt, no doubt!  I finished it by backing it with Chocolate Brown, Minky Dimple Dot.  I love how it turned out!

So, on March 31 we are headed across the pond to my husband Daniel's native country to spend Easter in England with the in-laws, as well as celebrate Maggie's 50th birthday.  I think she will love her quilt!

As a reward for having stuck with me this long, I'll leave you with a few photos from Scarborough England.

Toodle pip!