Tuesday, April 24, 2018

One More Quilting Sample

I found some old quilting samples hiding among my batting scraps not too long ago. Last week, I blogged about making seat cushions from the machine quilted samples.

There was one sample that I couldn’t bring myself to convert into something that would be dragged to outdoor sporting events — the hand quilting sample. This was the gateway piece, all those years ago, that made me think hand quilting a queen-size quilt should be my next project. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this sample had a part in shaping who I am as a maker.

I made the sample in a class. It has polyester batting sandwiched by two pieces of white muslin. Thinking the plain white fabric looked boring, I used red hand quilting thread for my stitches.

I had some maroon upholstery fabric leftover from a previous project. Although the hand stitches are bright red, the colors look similar given that the small stitches are surrounded by white and the texture of the maroon fabric catches the light in different ways. I thought they would work well together as a throw pillow.

Throw Pillow Made from a Hand Quilting Sample and Extra Upholstery Fabric

Making the Pillow
I squared the sample and maroon fabric to about 15 inches (38 cm). Using a nearby spool of thread as a guide for tracing, I rounded the corners.

Cutting Rounded Corners on Front and Back Fabric Pieces for Throw Pillow

As an extra detail, I cut bias strips of the maroon fabric to cover a length of cording. I think this particular piece of cording was salvaged from a shopping bag handle.

Using Zipper Foot to Cover Cording with Upholstery Fabric

I attached the covered cording to the backing fabric. As I sewed, I noticed the maroon fabric was starting to fray. I also began to think ahead that the layers of the quilted sample may shift as I sewed them to the backing because the quilting is only in the center. To address those issues, I ran a zigzag stitch around the raw edges of both pieces.

I sewed the quilted sample to the maroon fabric with right-sides together, leaving an opening for turning later. Then I put the piece in a lingerie bag and ran it through the washer and dryer. After all, the quilted sample has been sitting around for a good 20 years!

I turned the pillow right-side out, stuffed it with Poly-Fil®, hand stitched the opening, and took a few photos. As I began to put my camera away, the pillow had already been claimed!

Child on Beanbag Chair Using Throw Pillow to Prop Head

For a maker, I don't think it gets any better than that.

What do you like to make with your sample pieces?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Quick Quilted Cushions

Our youngest is playing Little League Baseball® this spring for the first time. While it’s fun to watch her on the field with her team, those metal bleachers are uncomfortable to the point of distraction.

As I was going through batting scraps to make my last quilt, I came across some old quilting samples. Two were from a free-motion quilting class, and another was from a quilt-as-you-go class. In the back of my mind, I’ve been mulling over what I could make with them.

As the proverb goes: Necessity is the mother of invention. Why not whip up some quick seat cushions from the quilting samples?

For the first cushion, I paired a free-motion sample with the quilt-as-you-go sample. It measures about 15 by 13 inches (38 by 33 cm).

Sample from a Free Motion Machine Quilting Class

Sample from a Quilt-as-You-Go Machine Quilting Class

For the second cushion, I paired the other free-motion sample with two layers of heavyweight orange fleece. It is almost 16 inches square (40.5 cm).

Sample from a Free Motion Machine Quilting Class
Yes, the date is the upper right corner says August 5, 2000!

I stacked each set right-sides together, sewed most of the way around the outer edges, trimmed the corners, and turned the pieces right-side out. Topstitching around the edges sealed the openings.

These aren’t the thickest cushions. In fact, calling them “cushions” is a stretch. One has two layers of batting with four layers of cotton fabric, and the other has one layer of batting along with two layers each of cotton and fleece fabrics.

Two Cushions Made with Quilting Samples

But the cushions were done within about an hour before a game! They don’t make the bleachers fully comfortable, but they make them less uncomfortable. The difference is enough to keep us focused on the entire game.

Pass the peanuts and go Rays!

Edited on April 23, 2018 to add:
After another game and some feedback from my husband — and after finding a partial bag of Poly-Fil® in the closet — I reopened each cushion to add some fluff. Now we can truly call them cushions!

Two Cushions Made with Quilting Samples and Stuffed with Poly-Fil

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Scrappy Summerfly

There’s nothing like having to pack up the house to make one realize the extent of one’s stash. Our recent move has made me keenly aware of how much yarn and fabric I have. It's not an extensive supply — I’m nowhere near SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) — but it bothers me to have supplies that I liked enough to purchase yet haven’t managed to use.

Leftover scraps present a different type of stash-busting challenge. I’ve already used them in a project so any urgency is gone. I often need to combine colors, which means I need to make projects that highlight the colorwork.

Back of Knit Wool Summerfly Shirt

I found the free Summerfly pattern by Alisha Bright, and thought it would be ideal for using up some leftover fingering weight wool yarn. I rotated through the following colors by knitting two rows of each:
  • Superwash merino handspun in midnight blue
  • Self-striping cool grays, ranging from off-white to dark slate blue
  • Light beige wool. After that ran out, I switched to Regia 4-f├Ądig Patch Antik Color in the colorway Beige, which self-stripes in various shades of beige with accents of white and gray.
  • Barber pole self-striping warm grays, ranging from ivory to dark gray

Detail of Stripes Knit with Four Colors of Scrap Wool Yarn

I used the pattern only as a guideline due to a combination of personal preference and unclear instructions. I decided against knitting the side panels in a contrasting color because the stripes seemed busy enough. I knit the body in the round. The Extra Waist Shaping sounded optional; I skipped it because I wanted a loose top. In retrospect, I could have included the shaping without sacrificing the desired fit.

I thought the last shoulder decrease step was unclear. After completing the decreases, it says to knit in stockinette stitch for four inches. I read this as knitting an additional four inches; instead, since the height was already about 3 1/2 inches (just under 9 cm), I knit until I reached four inches total (just over 10 cm). I like the size of the armholes on the finished top, so I think my interpretation was correct.

Front of Knit Wool Summerfly Shirt featuring Armholes

For the front scoop, the instructions say to increase by two stitches on the right side, purl back, then increase every other row followed by every row. I wondered whether this meant a true every other row increase — all right side rows — or every other right side/wrong side repeat. Because the last step says every row and the previous instructions don’t include increases on the purl rows, I deduced that the designer must mean to increase on every other right side/wrong side repeat.

The scoop shaping is created by knitting full rows, not short rows, which means that each row adds to the size of the armholes. This left me questioning whether to knit 20 rows total or 20 increase rows plus additional rows without increases. The scoop doesn’t drape as well as it might, but I’m still not certain whether I knit that section incorrectly because the armholes are an appropriate size.

Front of Knit Wool Summerfly Shirt featuring Scoop Cowl Neck

There was a chance that the warm and cool grays wouldn’t play well together, but I really like these stripes. I’m a little disappointed that I only managed to use up the light beige and Regia yarns, but my supply of the other yarns is much smaller than when I started. And I have a comfortable summer top, which is preferable to a pile of mismatched yarn in the cabinet!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Round Robin ABC Quilt

For the first time in more than a year, I have completed a quilt! Granted, I didn’t sew most of the blocks, but I sewed the equivalent number during my guild’s recent round robin sessions. That counts, right?

Bottom of Quilt made from Alphabet Themed Fabric

To each of the 12 1/2-inch (31.75 cm) blocks, I sewed a border with strips of fabric that were 3 1/2 inches (almost 9 cm) wide. Most of the fabrics were already featured in at least one block, but a few were new to the mix.

After sewing the blocks together in a four-by-four layout, I had just enough of the cut fabrics leftover to piece the backing. I pulled out a tub of batting scraps and pieced those together as well. One alphabet print remained unused; it became the bias binding.

Top of Quilt made from Alphabet Themed Fabric

The real challenge was the quilting itself. With the exception of one hand quilting project, all of my quilts for the past ten years or so have been sent to longarm quilters to be “quilted by check.”

I decided to quilt this one myself on my home sewing machine using an orange-red variegated thread. Since I’m out of practice, keeping it simple seemed like the best course of action. I quilted a basic 45-degree zigzag through the corners of the blocks and then at three-inch (7.6 cm) intervals as measured horizontally and vertically.

Back of Quilt made from Alphabet Themed Fabric

The finished quilt is six feet (1.8 m) square. It doesn’t fit any of the standard sizes for bed coverings, although it is large enough to be used for extra warmth on a bed. The quilt has already served as a sort of hopscotch game board.

Better View of Bottom Blocks on Quilt made from Alphabet Themed Fabric

I bought the alphabet fabrics gradually over many years without any plan in mind. Looking at the various colors and block layouts after the round robin sessions, I was told they couldn’t possibly work well together in one quilt. And yet, somehow, they do.

It felt good to make a quilt again. More will be coming soon!