Friday, February 24, 2012

Fixing a non-flat quilt

"Easing in" creates hilly quilts. Easing is necessary when stitching curves, but the phrase, "Just ease it in," strikes terror to my heart when it is recommended for rectangular pieces that should fit without easing. If I cut my pieces and stitch my seams accurately, I will not have to ease.

This log cabin quilt top (without the borders) was discovered in the church quilts-for-kids donation bin. Oh, good - easy project. I can finish this in a day, I thought. I took it home, added borders from my stash, laid it out on the table, and found a mountain range in front of me. It was so discouraging that I put it back on the shelf for six months. Last week I pulled it out and prepped it for becoming a quilt, laying out the backing, the batting, and the top. I tugged, pulled, and finally decided the quilt would have to have darts (!) in it to flatten it out. I would just cover the darts with applique, I thought. I went to Joann's and bought a half-yard of puppy-printed fleece. I'd cut out the puppies for the applique, and not only would the cute puppies cover the darts, they'd be nice and fuzzy.

The more I thought about it, the more the dart idea seemed like a bad one. I got out my seam ripper (sigh) and unstitched all (double sigh) the log cabin blocks down to their centers, while watching screechy singers on American Idol get standing ovations. I restitched the blocks, trimmed them so they were all the same size (no easing needed, see?), sewed them together, and voila! The quilt was perfectly flat, no easing, no hills, easy to quilt, no tucks or gathers. No puppies needed.

But when I stood back and looked at the finished quilt. It seemed a little somber for kids. The puppy appliques now seemed like a great idea. I fused on five fuzzy puppies (fusing is not easy with fleece, but I did it primarily for basting, so a good solid fuse was not needed), added free-motion reinforcement on the edges, and now I'm happy. On to the next non-flat fix-a-quilt project.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Five-sided quilt-as-you-go

As I mentioned in my last post, I had so many scraps of floral fabric left over, I used them to make another quilt. I started out with a five-sided figure (didn't try to draw it exactly even), and sewed strips of fabric around it, log-cabin style. By the time the blocks reached a certain size, not as big as I wanted, all the strips I had left were too short, so I stripped them together and trimmed them to make the final round. You can see the final part of the process in the steps below: 1) the final round 2) the final round trimmed. I stood back and wondered how to put five-sided blocks together, and finally decided to 3) trim them square. These are about 10 or 12 inches square. I can't measure, because I no longer have the quilt.

3 steps of finishing the scrappy blocks

All the blocks
Now I had to decide how to put them together. I was not ready to quilt yet another big quilt, wrestling with it under my home sewing machine, so I decided to put it together, quilt-as-you-go style. I sandwiched each block, and free-motion quilted a big daisy on it. I started with a spiral in the center and let the needle take me where it would. Most of the daisies have five petals, but some have six, and one even ended up with seven. The back of the reversible quilt is made up of two alternating prints on black background, making it possible to have two entirely different looks.

Finished quilt
Quilt-as-you-go is a great way to make a quilt. I got a lot of practice with free-motion quilting, and putting the blocks together with the strips was simple, once I'd wrapped by brain around the process. I donated this quilt to a charity (Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist Church) that makes quilts for children in the cancer ward.